The Stage 1 Findings of the Quinquennial Review were announced in Parliament today. I am delighted to see that, recognising The Service’s record of substantial achievement and its very high performance standards, the Review has recommended that The Service should remain an Executive Agency of the DTI; and that recommendation has been confirmed by Ministers. A copy of the announcement (by way of a Parliamentary Question) is attached at Annex 1, together with a message from our Minister, Kim Howells MP, at Annex 2.
The Review makes a number of recommendations, of which the key ones are summarised in the PQ. We have asked the Review Team for printed copies of the full Report which we understand will be provided initially on the basis of one copy per OR Office and HQ Section, and to the ATUS. The Report is also being made available by the Team on the DTI web site http://www2.dti.gov.uk/inssweb1.htm (there will be a link available from the Intranet); but it does run to around 180 pages, so perhaps ORs/HQ Section Heads would co-ordinate any local printing off in the interim – there is an Executive Summary of some 20 pages at the beginning of the Report. ORs and HQ Section Heads should provide the opportunity at forthcoming management/team meetings to discuss the Report and its recommendations: comments should be submitted to the HQ Secretariat (Marian.Joyce).
I will not attempt here to set out how we intend to respond to each of the recommendations, to the extent that we are not already moving forward on a number of them – for example, in relation to setting up a team to examine The Service’s funding for which Desmond Flynn invited expressions of interest from C Band officers earlier this month. But perhaps I should just comment on two of the key recommendations. First, selective tendering for disqualification investigation work. This has of course been trialled before; and it is now recommended that we should run a further, more structured, trial to assess the capability and capacity – and the costs – of the private sector as one option for responding to changing case numbers and rising workloads. That seems to me to be sensible and appropriate, and we are proceeding to set it up. Secondly, reorganisation. As you know, we are piloting home/remote working to assess the benefits and costs, and the effect on performance and user service standards (including the impact on the work of office-based staff). We will be sharing with you and the ATUS the findings of that pilot before I consider any decisions about any reorganisation: we have proceeded thus far on regionalisation and (very limited) centralisation in an evolving way, and the case to proceed further would, in my view, need to be compelling in terms of overall benefits and costs and service standards to which the Review has attached considerable importance.
The Report will of course be generally available, and I am sure it will be seen as an independent, and public, tribute to the commitment and endeavours of everybody in The Service. As importantly, it provides impetus to finding a solution to the problem of funding The Service (and the engagement of HM Treasury on the issue); and it points possible ways to the future development of, and the strengthening of the role of, The Service.
What happens next on the Review? We will be preparing a detailed response and briefing on the recommendations which we will circulate. The Review Team, who have asked me to pass on their thanks to all staff who contributed views during Stage 1, are now starting Stage 2 - to look at whether any changes should be made to the way The Insolvency Service operates. Because their meetings with staff covered Stage 1 and 2 issues, the Team do not propose to hold further general meetings with staff during Stage 2; but they would welcome any further comments you would want to make on the issues to be covered in Stage 2 (listed in Section 9.2 of the Stage 1 report and in Cabinet Office guidance on Agency Reviews which can be found at www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/eeg/2000/review/factsheet4.htm). Comments on Stage 2 issues should be sent by e-mail to Steve Broyd by 21 February at firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to:
96 Victoria Street
London SW1E 5JL
24 January 2001