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Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 17 June 2009

NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY 
COMMITTEE FOR 
FINANCE AND PERSONNEL

Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit: Review of Public Service Agreement

17 June 2009

 

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin (Chairperson
Mr Simon Hamilton (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Fra McCann 
Ms J McCann 
Mr Declan O’Loan
Ms Dawn Purvis

Witnesses:

Mr Shane Murphy ) Department of Finance and Personnel
Mr Richard Pengelly )

The Chairperson (Mr McLaughlin):

You are very welcome. I refer members to the briefing paper from the Department. This session has been rescheduled from last week due to the delay in receiving the briefing paper. The Committee has written to the Minister expressing its concern, and it has recorded its concern at official level. The acronym RAG is used in the papers; it refers to red, amber and green.

Mr Richard Pengelly (Department of Finance and Personnel):

Early in 2008, the Programme for Government made a commitment to put in place a delivery framework for monitoring and reporting progress. There are two key elements to that. On the one hand, it is about monitoring progress against some ambitious targets, but, more importantly, the aspiration was that the active monitoring would drive performance. It was recognised that this was new territory for Ministers and Departments and that a more ambitious focus was being put on outputs and outcomes rather than the previous over-focus on amounts spent.

Although the commitment was made in early 2008, the Executive did not agree a framework until March 2009. In the interim — and to maintain momentum — Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) and Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) officials looked at the public service agreement (PSA) delivery agreements that have been prepared by Departments. There were two different goes at that. On 7 January, at the first round of evaluation, the Minister of Finance and Personnel wrote to the Executive to highlight some emerging issues.

There were two key themes. Concerns were expressed about the extent to which there was cross-departmental working, particularly for the achievement of targets that required close collaboration between Departments. The second theme related to metrics and the monitoring and driving of performance without a clear basis to assess the progress that is being made. We have made the point to Departments that it is not necessarily having the metrics that are in the targets, because there can be a considerable time lag, particularly with some of the higher-level output and outcome targets. For instance, you might not know what the position was on 31 March until six months hence, when the data is available. We made the point about establishing a range of indicators and metrics that could give comfort that things were moving in the right direction.

The Executive agreed the framework in March 2009. A key element of that was that OFMDFM is leading the management and monitoring approach, so we are working with it. The Committee will want to bear that in mind as it goes forward in the scrutiny. There is an issue about whether it is an OFMDFM lead, but we are continuing to do work on it. We can speak to the Committee about the work that we are doing, but, in March 2009, the Executive agreed that ownership of the framework rests with OFMDFM.

Ms Purvis:

Why did it take from 5 March to 27 May before the delivery reports were commissioned?

Mr Pengelly:

On 5 March, the Executive agreed the concept, structure and strategic approach of the framework. Officials were working on what a delivery report might look like until May, when it was brought to the Executive to be signed off. That was the detailed approach to commissioning this work, and it was the position at 31 March.

Ms Purvis:

Your paper mentions difficulties with the consistency in Departments’ assessments and providing clear and transparent assessment of progress. You mentioned guidance that was issued to Departments. Will you provide an example of the inconsistencies? What guidance was issued to Departments?

Mr Pengelly:

I will invite Mr Murphy to talk about some of the inconsistencies, which would be better dealt with at a generic level rather than diving into the details of any individual Department.

To be fair to Departments, the early guidance was produced at a stage when we were all entering new territory. Departments had been asked for the first time to produce what was called public service agreement (PSA) delivery plans on how they would do it — an issue that had been discussed with Departments. Therefore, we recognise that the guidance will evolve over time, become sharper, contain better examples and become clearer.

Mr Shane Murphy (Department of Finance and Personnel):

Guidance on RAG ratings was developed during the year as part of the interim system, so the Department had something basic the first time it went out. The second time we went out, RAG ratings were added to enable Departments to self-assess how confident they were that targets were being met. Again, there was some guidance on what a red assessment, a green assessment and so forth might look like.

This time around, for the end-of-year report, the guidance has been enhanced and sharpened. Importantly, we have built in a right-to-reply process so that if we consider a Department’s self-assessment to be inconsistent, for instance that an amber should be a red, the central team — us and OFMDFM — records why it believes that the Department involved has not properly assessed its RAG status. We go back to that Department to give it the opportunity to provide additional evidence to justify its marking or to accept the alternative marking. That has been a means of driving consistency in assessments.

Ms Purvis:

There are persistent complaints about cross-departmental working or Departments working together on particular issues. Concern is expressed in the report about the lack of co-ordination between Departments on cross-cutting PSAs. Can you give an example of what those PSAs might be? Should the Committee be concerned that a lack of co-operation may cause those PSAs to underperform in the overall Programme for Government?

Mr Pengelly:

There are many examples. For instance, there is a Programme for Government objective:
“to grow a dynamic and innovative economy”.
Clearly there is a role for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment; for the Department for Employment and Learning, in respect of the contribution to skills agenda; and for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Ms Purvis:

That is one of the key planks of the Programme for Government. Are you telling me that they are not working together to deliver it?

Mr Pengelly:

No, I am citing that as an example of cross-cutting.

Ms Purvis:

All right. I thought that it was being given as an example of a failure to work together.

The Chairperson:

Has the Department found a problem in achieving a joined-up approach and putting in place workable governance arrangements where there are cross-cutting inputs?

Mr Pengelly:

There is a problem, but I do not want to overstate it. Approaching the position from our evaluative basis, we look at what we aspire to achieve, and we are moving from a position where there has not been a great track record of collaboration between Departments to wanting to put in place a completely holistic, fully engaged approach. One way in which we are trying to drive that is through having a lead Minister for every target, a senior responsible officer at official level and a cross-departmental working group which brings people into a room to talk about it. There are areas in which we can and will improve, but we are not finding any areas in which two Departments that need to work together are sitting with their backs to each other and refusing to engage.

Mr S Murphy:

We looked at the evidence that Departments gave us, and in some cases we did not find an overarching governance structure, PSA board or interdepartmental working group for some genuinely cross-cutting targets. That obviously sows seeds of doubt about whether there is a co-ordinated effort or a drive from the top, which is not to say that things will not be going on lower down in the Departments. In some cases, the governance structure did not suggest that there was a drive from the top.

Mr Pengelly:

As I said at the start, part of the process is more about driving performance than monitoring performance. The key concept that underpins the framework that the Executive have put in place is that a lead Minister and a lead official are made responsible for the delivery of the targets. It does not take a big stretch to imagine that all of the pressure that comes from the Executive to the lead Minister will quickly transfer to the official, and rightly so.

At an operational level, there is collaborative work between Departments, but we want governance structures through which the most senior officials recognise the responsibility to ensure proper accountability. The absence of such governance structures runs the risk of Departments that work together blaming each other if they do not hit their targets. Instead of having a conversation with each Department in isolation, we get them around the same table at the same time, accountable to one Minister. No one can blame each other, and all the reasons can be driven out.

Ms Purvis:

The implication of that is that this is not driving delivery as well as it should be, and that, therefore, some PSA targets may not be met. Are you saying that you are trying to put in place a structure that will drive this and hold people to account?

Mr Pengelly:

Even without that sort of structure, there is a very good chance that, in most cases, PSA targets would be met. We are introducing clear accountability and governance mechanisms to underpin that to ensure that any issues are identified and addressed at an early stage and that a strategic approach is taken to drive performance, as opposed to letting performance happen at an operational level and the outworking of that being reported.

Ms Purvis:

Your briefing paper states that a number of targets have been amended by the responsible Department. Given that the PSAs were part of a Programme for Government, which is an Executive document, and that targets can only be amended with Executive agreement, what happens to Departments that have amended targets? Does a request to amend a target go to the Executive for agreement? Are Departments told that they cannot amend a target and that it must stay as it is?

The Chairperson:

Can you amend them in the light of successful delivery?

Ms Purvis:

I am not as optimistic as that.

Mr Pengelly:

I accept the criticism that we are making a mountain out of a molehill as being fair. The number of targets reaches double digits, and in no more than three cases were amendments made. In two of those cases, there was just confusion between the information that came from a level in the Department and what was contained in the Programme for Government. In one other case, an amendment resulted from an issue in the health sector to do with children in care. In the light of the emerging Baby P case, the Department considered that the target might create a perverse incentive not to engage earlier. The Department was rethinking the target on that basis.

We wanted to make an issue of that point at the first round of monitoring to set the line in the sand that the targets are what the Executive agreed. Any Department can, through its Minister, engage with the Executive about appropriate amendments to the targets. We have deliberately overplayed that point in order to clarify it. The cases of confusion have now been removed, and Departments are now clear that they must re-engage with the Executive if they wish to amend a target.

Ms Purvis:

Do the targets that are set out in the Programme for Government remain as they are?

Mr Pengelly:

Yes.

Mr F McCann:

The report seems to be very critical in many aspects. At the start of the process, there were high hopes that we were moving on to a new plane. Were Departments unable to deliver what was being asked of them, or was there just a resistance to change?

Mr Pengelly:

Bearing in mind that the targets in the Programme for Government were agreed by the Executive, I do not think that any Minister would have been comfortable sitting round the Executive table and agreeing a target that they felt was clearly unachievable. Departments were content that the targets could be achieved. Our position is that it is not enough, particularly in relation to some of the very aspirational targets, to set them and then sit back. The date for the delivery of some of the targets could be been three, four or five years hence. Our view, and the view of the Executive, was that it was not enough to set a target and then come back in five years and hope that it has been achieved. It is about getting a new process in place. The process is really there to help and facilitate Departments, and to ensure that they deliver. There was no question of the targets being set and the Departments just carrying on, and we would have had a tale of woe that would continually hit us for the next three or four years. It was about trying to sharpen that up.

In that context, it is pretty much inevitable that the first review of how the Departments are getting on should err on the side of being a bit critical so that any points can be driven at. I do not think that, six months into what could be a five-year programme of work, it does any harm to overplay some of the difficulties to make sure that they are ironed out at that stage and do not become systemic problems through a five-year period of delivery.

Mr F McCann:

One would also think that, six months into a five-year programme, people would be fairly energetic in trying to deliver.

Mr Pengelly:

There is no doubt that there is energy and dynamism at the coalface in relation to the operational issues and getting on and delivering those services. We want to get the same sort of approach in relation to governance and accountability structures so that any problems can be identified early, remedial steps can be taken to the extent to which they are necessary, and there is awareness at senior official, ministerial and Executive level about interim progress throughout the period.

The Chairperson:

In relation to accountability and incentivising people at the coalface, is the delivery of PSA targets part of the personal performance plans of senior officials?

Mr Pengelly:

Personal performance plans are an issue between permanent secretaries and senior officials. My experience of performance appraisals is that we very much base them on the business plan for the business area. The first thing that goes into any business plan is delivering PSA targets and other targets that are in the Programme for Government. That is absolutely transparent in any personal agreement that I have either signed off on or approved.

The Chairperson:

You will be aware that this Committee is looking at the issue of salary structures, bonuses, performances, incentives and so on, which other members have mentioned.

Mr Pengelly:

I am all too aware.

The Chairperson:

Of course.

Mr Hamilton:

It would be easy to read through the report, particularly the annex with the seven issues that have emerged as being quite problematic, and be critical. However, that should be set in the context of the issue being what you described as new territory. It was not there before; there has been little or no co-operation among Departments on past targets. There is no yardstick by which to measure performance in or across Departments. What we have seen emerging in the initial stages is typical of what one would find in any performance management system in any organisation.

The stuff that Dawn teased out about the changing of targets was useful. I know that Declan concentrated on that yesterday. In reading the paper, there was a fear that there was an element of Mexican target practice in Departments — they were firing the shots and then drawing the circles around them. However, your assurances that that is not the case —

The Chairperson:

It is not just the shots; it is the ricochets as well.

Mr Hamilton:

That was somewhat reassuring. A lot of the other problems about inconsistency and assessments are typical. I have seen those happening in private-sector organisations and in local government. It is typical of what one finds at initial stages, but it is better to have something that is doing that work. We can, and should, be critical as those problems emerge, but they are being tackled.

What is the difference between the framework that has now been formalised and the one that was put in place initially? Is there any major difference? Was there any significant tinkering?

Mr Pengelly:

The formalised framework starts from the point that the Executive will take an interest in it. That will be manifested through the First Minister and the deputy First Minister, supported by the Finance Minister, having ad hoc accountability meetings with the lead Minister for targets. In respect of ministerial time, the focus of those meetings will be on areas where difficulties may be emerging, as opposed to its being a congratulatory meeting. The framework is very focused at a strategic level, with ministerial engagement and the Executive receiving delivery reports. There is no substantive difference in the work underpinning that. The methodology that will be put in place to underpin the delivery report very much builds on the interim steps that were introduced prior to formal Executive agreement. There has not been any significant change in direction or approach.

Mr Hamilton:

On another point, paragraph 4 of the briefing paper, referring to the analysis of targets and so forth, states that:
“These issues are not dissimilar to some of those raised in a recent NIAO report”.
You will be aware of criticism at the time that the performance and efficiency delivery unit (PEDU) was established that it was doing work similar to that of the Audit Office. Here you yourself are making the point directly that it has agreed with work that the Audit Office has done already. Can you respond to that issue? Where is the difference between what you are doing and what it is doing?

Mr Pengelly:

It is very easy to slip into being overly critical of the Audit Office, speaking as a departmental official who suffers from the Audit Office.

The Chairperson:

Are you going to resist the temptation?

Mr Pengelly:

Probably not — I feel that I am allowed to criticise the Audit Office, having worked there previously. The key difference is, perhaps, one of timing. I genuinely do not mean to be overly critical of the Audit Office: its work is very valuable. However, it tends to look at targets, and, if a target is to do something by a certain point in time, it will come in after that point in time to determine whether or not that target was achieved. Then it will try to understand the reasons why the target was not achieved. What PEDU does now is to go in very much in advance, when performance against the target is not yet known, but some issues are identified that may give rise —

The Chairperson:

The Audit Office’s approach is retrospective.

Mr Pengelly:

Yes; very much so. As I said, I do not mean that as a criticism. That is just the way it works.

The Chairperson:

That is the Audit Office’s function.

Mr S Murphy:

The point that we are trying to get across is that the NIAO looked at the targets before the Programme for Government and that, therefore, some of those problems persist and have persisted for some time. That was the main point, as opposed to the point that we were covering the same ground as the Audit Office.

Mr Pengelly:

I hope that the other difference, which may not necessarily manifest itself in this, is that, in parallel to identifying a problem, PEDU has an obligation to offer some help and support to the Department on a solution. The Audit Office is not there to help Departments. It exists for the mechanism of accountability and to identify difficulties legitimately. I like to think that we bring something else to that; we help Departments through. Ultimately, the approach that we take will, at some point, be subject to Audit Office scrutiny too.

The Chairperson:

It will be, I am sure. It is useful to explore the different functions, which are each essential separately. Will the delivery reports be published?

Mr Pengelly:

That is an issue for the Executive, who commissioned them. I suspect that they will be, but I do not think that the Executive have discussed their publication specifically. The discussions that took place about the commissioning gave them some prominence, so I think that there will be a desire to publish them.

The Chairperson:

Will you take that as a specific enquiry from the Committee and let us know?

Mr Pengelly:

Yes.

Mr O’Loan:

I will not say a lot, because I said quite a bit about this yesterday. I will not quote most of the report, as I did yesterday. In fact, the only good thing that I can say about this is that the report in front of us was published; that there has been such a frank admission that — and I use my own words — the situation has been such a disaster. I think that it is a disaster.

The Executive have been operating for two years, and, as Mr Pengelly has rightly said, as the Minister has said and as we all agree, spending money is all very well, but it is every bit as important to ensure that it is spent well. The business of performance measurement, reporting back and verifying that public service agreements have been carried out as committed to, is fundamentally important.

The report is damning. I do not mean that every line is damning, but all seven of the key themes and issues in annex A are critical. As I said yesterday, five of them are highly critical, and two of them are criticisms of a moderate nature. I do not accept Mr Pengelly’s point that one can be confident that Departments are carrying this out anyway. If, for the reasons that have been explained, they are not able to report back to the centre on their delivery and if they have the information to verify that, I do not see how the individual Departments can say that they are delivering or be comfortable that they are. I welcome the frankness of the report, but it discloses a worrying situation. I rest my case.

Mr Pengelly:

I do not recognise a lot of that language, and it is not how I see the report. I think that Mr O’Loan said that it was a mess; I do not see it as a mess. The nature of the report was to examine practice across all Departments. There was some good and some bad. The nature of the report was not about identifying the good practice; it was about identifying areas in which there was a need for improvement:
“While this approach is evident in a number of targets, there are a small number where the reporting department has not clearly set out the required information.”
It is trying to build on the existing good practice that is there.

The focus of this is very much about governance and accountability. It is not a commentary on the detailed action that is taking place through the key interface between the public service and the public where, undoubtedly, a huge amount of good work is taking place. The report is in the context of an aspirational desire to make the best of that, particularly in toughening economic times when we need to stretch every pound. I see it in more positive terms.

The Chairperson:

The Minister reported to the Executive in January on PEDU’s concerns about departmental delivery plans. Are you content, five months later, that those concerns have been addressed?

Mr Pengelly:

We have not had a formal update. The delivery report is being commissioned, and we will see whether that has been addressed. It will focus more on the progress that has been made in the first year of the Programme for Government. That report will give us a sense, because we will get a better articulation of the progress and we will see an improvement of some of the metrics. The only measure that I have is the level of debate and dialogue about performance between the Departments and us, and that is certainly improving. Departments are focusing more sharply on the services that they are delivering than on the amount of money that they are spending.

The Chairperson:

When will the formal delivery report be published?

Mr Pengelly:

Mr Murphy has just informed me that a note has been sent from OFMDFM to Departments highlighting that the Executive agreed that the aim is to publish the report before the summer recess. That work is ongoing.

The Chairperson:

That report will reflect your satisfaction or dissatisfaction that people have been picking up the feedback and acting on it.

Ms J McCann:

Some of my questions have been answered. Your paper outlines seven themes and issues where improvement, at least, is required. Have measures been taken to fix those identified problems?

Mr Pengelly:

A number of those problems have been addressed. Mr Murphy mentioned what has been done on the assessment of the RAG status. On the cross-departmental issue, which is particularly important, subsequent to the Department’s interim monitoring, the identification of those seven issues and the Executive sign-off, OFMDFM has now formally written to all Departments asking for details of the steering group for each target, its composition in terms of senior officials from each relevant Department, and how they are working together. There is a formalised process dealing with that.

The Department has not carried out a formal re-evaluation of the original evaluation that identified those concerns. I cannot say categorically that we see hard evidence. There has been on ongoing bilateral dialogue focusing on how the Departments are responding to those problems. There is evidence that Departments are aware of the problems, and are moving forward with them.

Mr S Murphy:

A number of the delivery agreements stated, for example, that indicator X was “to be developed”. At each round of PSA monitoring we remind the Departments of which indicators they had committed to developing and ask when those will be developed, or, if they have been developed, for the latest information on them. We have continued to do that as part of the monitoring rounds to highlight those gaps.

In a number of cases where the Department itself is concerned about the indicator, we have asked about the alternatives, and whether information could be collated more frequently. If, for example, there is a long time lag, we ask whether there is something else that will give a fair idea of progress in the interim, even though it is not perfect. We have been pushing on that front as well. Ultimately, the staff in Departments who are running the programmes and so forth will find that useful themselves.

The Chairperson:

People may find it incredible that there could be a target without a system to measure and monitor progress towards achieving it. How can there be an effective Programme for Government if there is no delivery?

Mr Pengelly:

To be clear; there is a system in place to monitor progress against targets. What we are trying to put is to bring it in earlier.

The Chairperson:

You do not want to do it at the end of the programme.

Mr Pengelly:

Although information on performance against a target will be available throughout the period in which the target is to be delivered, we are asking Departments to try to develop some other measures that will provide information weekly or monthly, rather than quarterly or half-yearly, with a time lag. There is a focus on that, but it is not the case that there is no focus on the target.

The Chairperson:

What provoked my comment is that you have raised the issues with Departments. Is there a requirement for them to respond to explain the difficulties or to explain why there is such a lag time? Can we insist on a different approach?

Mr S Murphy:

Obviously, there are some things that cannot really be done. For example, in collating school results, one cannot make the kids sit exams three times a year.

The Chairperson:

We are trying to stop them sitting exams at all.

Mr S Murphy:

You understand that there are things like that, which only occur once a year, so they can only be measured once a year. We are pushing Departments through the monitoring process by highlighting those areas where we feel it would be plausible to collect information more frequently or where a proxy might be used to give a better indication of progress in the intervening period.

The RAG rating system has a red rating, an amber rating, an amber/green rating, which denotes “nearly, but not quite”, and a green rating. If Departments do not have up-to-date information on progress, they are automatically given an amber rating. That in itself helps prompt Departments to sharpen their pencils when it comes to bashing their databases to get the information, or to get it quicker.

Mr Pengelly:

Those points flow from an interim approach that we put in place pending Executive agreement. We have made the points and discussed them, and now that there is Executive agreement, there is another formal process being led by OFMDFM, which has been commissioned. We do not want to have two parallel processes, because that would go against everything that we are trying to achieve with regard to efficiency. Therefore, this discussion would still happen in bilateral terms as part of the normal dialogue between DFP and Departments, but the heavy lifting is being done in that other process, which OFMDFM is leading. Returns are due in soon.

Ms J McCann:

I thought that the whole concept behind PEDU was to ensure a strategic approach to the assessment of whether different Departments are reaching their targets. What is the point in a Department analysing or evaluating itself? In that situation, a Department will say that its targets have been met, particularly if there is no overall structure to measure its results against. I thought that that was why PEDU was established.

I know what you are saying about a parallel system in which Departments monitor their own progress in reaching their targets, but surely that is not sufficient? An overarching body strategically monitoring Departments is needed to ensure that the targets are being met. What happens when the targets are not met?

Mr Pengelly:

The Executive are the overarching body that will ensure that targets are achieved; they have agreed to take ownership of that matter and put in place a mechanism, which means that there will be accountability meetings that the First Minister and deputy First Minister will lead on. PEDU does not exist —

Ms J McCann:

I am talking about the concept behind the establishment of PEDU.

Mr Pengelly:

As I said earlier, if PEDU got into the role of standing back and looking at the system, it would become another Audit Office. PEDU was leading on this piece of work because it was trying to develop a proactive mechanism that would identify issues, offer solutions and push things forward. PEDU will never work on a cross-systems basis as a matter of routine; it will work on focused studies with Departments. It is not coming in externally as a critique; it is there to come in below the radar and help Departments. Therefore, when the monitoring takes place, led by the Executive, and individual Ministers want some external help to drive them on, it will up to those Ministers to invite PEDU in, as happened in the recent review of the Planning Service. PEDU will never be “done to” Departments. In the initial work, we were using the expertise in PEDU to work with Departments to try and get on the front foot.

The Chairperson:

It is more of a troubleshooting tool.

Mr Pengelly:

Absolutely. A degree of self-evaluation and self-critique is an important component, but it is in the context of overarching Executive scrutiny and accountability on performance.

Jennifer McCann asked what happens if targets are not met. That will naturally crystallise from the First Minister and deputy First Minister’s accountability meetings with Departments. Where targets are not being achieved, they will want to understand the reasons for that. In some cases, external factors will be at play. The Executive can look across the whole playing field and see that there are a couple of targets that we are in danger of not achieving, but there will undoubtedly be some targets on which we are overachieving, because circumstances have worked in our favour. That allows the Executive to make the call on strategic prioritisation areas and decide that the areas in which targets are not being met are more important than those where there is overachievement. The Executive can then decide that resources need to be skewed away from areas of overachievement and put into areas where targets are not being met. That is important, because overachievement on some targets is not as good for the Executive as underachievement on other targets is bad.

The Chairperson:

Is identifying overachievement and other blips on the radar the function of PEDU or of central Government?

Mr Pengelly:

That will be the function of the delivery report, which will look at all aspects. In toughening times, the Executive may decide to shift resources away from areas where some targets are on track for delivery, not only those where there is overachievement, and put them into areas where there is a material risk of underachievement for external reasons.

The Chairperson:

Is there not a specialist team in OFMDFM that focuses on the delivery of the Programme for Government?

Mr Pengelly:

Yes, that is among the key responsibilities of the economic policy unit, with which we work very closely.

The Chairperson:

Is PEDU in that group?

Mr Pengelly:

In a sense there is a notional structure. I believe that it is referred to in this as a central delivery team, which is really PEDU and OFMDFM folks coming together and working together because they have different perspectives to support. The line of accountability runs through OFMDFM to the First and deputy First Ministers.

Mr S Murphy:

The team was formalised in a project initiation document in which the main folks from OFMDFM and PEDU were named. We also used the supply division as a second opinion on the ratings of the central assessment team. Effectively, it was run as a small project, with the production of the delivery report by the Programme for Government unit and the four of us from PEDU forming part of the team.

Ms J McCann:

Where does the Programme for Government team that oversees Departments’ targets and cross-departmental targets get its information? Does it not get that from PEDU?

Mr S Murphy:

The returns from Departments go to PEDU, to OFMDFM and to supply division.

The Chairperson:

Therefore, those three elements are brought together at some point.

Ms Purvis:

Was PEDU successful in its bid for resources from the June monitoring round?

Mr Pengelly:

The Minister has not brought his recommendations to the Executive yet.

The Chairperson:

That was a good try.

Ms Purvis:

PEDU’s bid increased this year compared with last year. How was that bid affected by OFMDFM assuming responsibility for this? Does that affect PEDU’s resources in any way?

Mr Pengelly:

No, because we will continue to work on this with OFMDFM. The work that we did last year filled a gap. We had some available resources between the work that we did on Planning Service and the start of the Land and Property Services work. Having completed our work on the Planning Service and got the sense that the Planning Service was complimentary about the value that we added to its work, our aspiration for PEDU is that that will start to cascade through other Departments and that more Ministers in the Executive will invite PEDU in to help. Therefore, we aspire to become busier. May I quote you as supporting our bid in the June monitoring round? [Laughter.]

Ms Purvis:

I did not support it; I just asked whether you got it.

The Chairperson:

OK. Thank you very much. The session was very helpful. Remember that query about the reports. The Committee is interested in seeing the quarterly reports for its own Department. I will suggest that the Committee copies PEDU’s paper to the other scrutiny Committees, because I am sure that they would also like to help keep an eye on that.

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