27 May 2008 | Paul Snell
The government could make savings of up to £326 million through the better use of office property, according to MPs.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found, compared to benchmarks, government property is between 14 and 50 per cent less efficient than the private sector average.
But the public sector is "not well placed to improve value for money" by making the savings on factors such as location, building age and repairs, with a legacy of listed buildings and poor record on maintenance.
The cost of accommodation per square metre ranged between £123 and £636, and cost per person between £2,000 and £12,000. MPs said opportunities could be found in desk sharing, remote working and ultimately disposing of inefficient buildings. Central government's annual spend on property is estimated at £1 billion.
The public sector is also unable to measure the energy consumption for three out of 10 government buildings. The committee said departments must seek assurance from experts that their metrics for measurement are "comprehensive and fit for purpose".
Questions were also raised concerning OGC plans to save £1.5 billion on the government estate by 2013 through its "High Performing Property" programme.
"There is little detail on the specific source of expected savings," said the report by the PAC. "OGC needs to develop a more detailed assessment of the make up of the efficiency improvements, together with a robust approach for measuring and reporting them."
The OGC has already urged departments to reduce the space used by public sector workers (Web news, 31 March).