Government scraps COI

24 June 2011

24 June 2011 | Adam Leach

The Central Office of Information (COI) is to close and responsibility for marketing procurement will be divided between specific Whitehall departments and the Government Procurement unit.

The Cabinet Office’s decision to shut the COI, the government’s centre of marketing and communications expertise, was confirmed by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude yesterday as he issued the department’s response to a review conducted by former permanent secretary for government communication Matt Tee.

In his report reviewing the role of the COI, Tee called for the body to be replaced by a 150-strong government communications centre. However, the Cabinet Office instead decided to hand the responsibilities for marketing procurement “where appropriate” directly to Whitehall departments and create a small team within Government Procurement, to oversee the purchasing of marketing and communications services.

Maude explained that the small team, which will be overseen by government CPO John Collington, would work mainly with small Whitehall departments and handle the procurement of marketing agencies. Large government departments will be given control of buying their own marketing with the Department of Health given responsibility for purchasing health awareness campaigns and the Ministry of Defence managing armed forces recruitment.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office told SM: “Remaining COI staff will be redeployed where possible, but there will be some redundancies.”

The spokesman would not confirm whether or not purchasing staff would be among the redundancies.     

Maude said: “This government has slashed unnecessary spending on communications. These important and significant changes to government communications structures are designed to reflect this and to save more money by cutting bureaucracy and reducing duplication.”

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