Department of Finance and AdministrationAnnual
The Department of Finance and Administration has
responsibility to provide efficient, effective and economic services
to Members, the House of Commons Commission, Board of Management,
Departments and staff of the House:
- for Members (and their staff), the Department
provides services on pay, allowances, pensions, personnel and
other financial matters and (for Members only) medical screening;
- for the Commission, Board of Management, Departments
and staff of the House it provides financial, payroll, personnel,
occupational health safety and welfare advisory services and other
management services; and
- providing advice and sponsoring other work on
improving House-wide structures, policies and activities (e.g.
through the Board of Management, Planning and Management Committee,
Planning and Management Committee (Finance), and Information Systems
Steering Group). This aspect of the Department's work is intended
to help the whole House administration to operate increasingly
effectively and acceptably, in light of changing expectations.
The Director of Finance and Administration is the
House's Principal Establishments and Finance Officer. Through
the Clerk of the House, as Accounting Officer, he provides the
Commission with information and advice and is the Finance and
Services Committee's key adviser. The Department administers the
'Votes' of the House of Commons. It also administers the Parliamentary
Contributory Pension Fund, the House of Commons Staff Pension
Scheme and provides financial and accounting services for the
History of Parliament Trust, the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary
Body and payroll services for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
and Inter Parliamentary Union.
2. Plans and achievements
The Department's aim, for the year, was to improve
its performance and provide a better, faster and more efficient
service to all its customers. High level goals are shown below,
annotated with the outcome and achievement.
FOR THE DEPARTMENTAL MANAGEMENT BOARD
Pursue a business change and development programme
to improve customer service, by concentrating on improvements
to processes, enhanced training and development and achievement
of Investors in People (IiP):
The business improvement programme is transforming
and streamlining the Department. To provide top quality services
efficiently, it is changing the way it does things and, in parallel,
developing staff to their full potential. The programme's four
improvement areas are customer service, process improvement, training
and development and team building.
Following successful recognition as an Investor in
People in December 2000, the Department is continuing with its
commitment to the principles of IiP. It has launched a co-ordinated
development scheme for managers, called the Active Management
Programme. In the workplace, it is putting into effect the approaches
and techniques acquired through a customer care training programme.
The Department will continue to participate fully
in House-wide initiatives and groups, and to support associated
organisations, including the Board of Management:
As a department dedicated to providing corporate
House-wide support services, it has pressed strongly in the past
3-4 years for an overall corporate approach to House management
and support. This is now bearing fruit, following the Braithwaite
report, and the Department is co-operating fully with key senior
management groups and the Office of the Clerk to achieve more
effective and efficient governance.
The Department has played a leading role and much
work has been done in developing more modern management through
the Planning and Management Committee (Finance) chaired by the
Director of Finance Policy. Developments include introducing a
requirement for business cases to support significant investment
proposals; co-ordinating the House-wide business planning process,
and work on corporate performance measures and demand management.
2.3 relocation to 7 millbank
Plan and prepare - in consultation with PWD - for
the department's relocation to 7 Millbank:
The Office has worked closely with PWD and PCD in
getting ready for the Department's move to Millbank - planned
for the first two weeks of September 2001. A dedicated project
group has been set up which will oversee the detail. The aim is
to have a seamless move and to make sure that the Department's
customers continue to get a good level of service.
Oversee the contracts for the Travel Office and Westminster
Gym, ensuring reliable and cost-effective services:
The Department now has responsibility for the management
of the Travel Office after the successful tendering exercise and
award of a new contract to American Express. The Westminster Gym,
managed by Jubilee Hall Clubs, is operating effectively and has
received positive customer feedback. The Gym has been extensively
refurbished, and has continued to flourish with the inclusion
of two new services to staff - an in-house physiotherapy service
and a medical referral programme.
PERSONNEL POLICY DIRECTORATE
Implement and manage a programme of Equal Opportunities
training throughout the House:
The House of Commons Commission endorsed a programme
of equal opportunity initiatives. This included training for all
staff (over 1,200 staff were trained by the end of 2000), disability
awareness training, outreach initiatives to local schools to encourage
more job applicants from ethnic minorities, and a pilot holiday
Promulgate and advise on implementation of Health
and Safety policy and codes of practice (e.g. on alcohol):
The Department successfully introduced a Health and
Safety Risk Management Strategy (five-year plan) together with
a Health and Safety Policy and Alcohol Code of Practice. A full
training programme for all levels of staff was put in place and
was well received. The Department successfully negotiated a new
contract for increased medical services with St. Thomas' Hospital.
Early 2000 saw the production and publication of
a revised Staff Handbook for House staff. The second edition will
be issued in June 2001.
FINANCE POLICY DIRECTORATE
Develop financial and wider management policies and
strategies for the House. Develop integrated business planning
(including financial, manpower and project planning) and continue
to improve the quality and content of the 3-year planning and
annual Estimates exercises for the two House Votes:
The Directorate provided information and discussion
papers to support the work of PMC(F) (see page 21). As part of
the work on Resource Accounting and Budgeting (see below), the
management and control systems for the accounting data and the
fixed assets register were improved. The Directorate has reviewed
the processes, timetable and mechanisms for business planning
to ensure better integration with cross-House groups.
2.9 DEVELOP MANPOWER
Manpower plans produced by departments were used
to help calculate the paybill for the 2001-02 Estimate. This is
now being used as the basis for the House's 3-year resource planning
In 2000 the Internal Review Service (IRS) conducted
a review of all bids for additional manpower funding. Their review
assisted the Board of Management to identify and achieve a significant
reduction in the baseline forecasts. IRS is currently engaged
in a similar exercise during the current round of the 3-year resource
2.10 FINANCIAL SERVICES
The Department will improve the speed of production
of statutory accounts and financial returns, develop and improve
the financial services provided to associated bodies and organisations
and improve the management accounts and forecasts in accordance
with the Braithwaite recommendations:
Statutory accounts were produced in May 2001, compared
to June 2000. New financial arrangements were introduced for the
History of Parliament Trust. New "Braithwaite" management
information reports were produced for the Board of Management
in line with the implementation plan.
2.11 RESOURCE ACCOUNTING
Continue the programme for implementing Resource
Accounting and Budgeting (RAB), including introducing resource
Significant progress on the implementation of Resource
Accounting and Budgeting has been made during the year, including:
- consolidation of the Administration and Works
Votes into a single Administrative Expenditure Vote. This new
Vote has now absorbed the Refreshment Department trading account;
- laying the 2001-02 Estimate on a resource basis;
- co-operation with the Treasury on the Government
Resources and Accounts Act 2000, which amends the House of Commons
(Administration) Act 1978 to bring in resource budgeting for the
House of Commons.
INFORMATION SYSTEMS SERVICES
To separate IT and IS activities and arrange for
the Parliamentary Communications Directorate (PCD) to take responsibility
for IT support:
At a practical, day to day level, much has been done
to achieve this, with PCD now providing IT support for all the
Department's computer hardware. The PCD and Departmental help
desks work closely together to achieve a relatively seamless service,
which is assisted by both using the same call tracking software.
There is still work to be done to formalise a service agreement
and to resolve issues in the "grey area" of overlap
between IT and IS.
2.13 IS PLANNING
To plan for major systems replacement in the period
2002-2004, with the specific aims of meeting the enhanced information
requirements outlined in the Braithwaite report, and developing
a distributed, more devolved approach to personnel and financial
The Departmental Access Project (DAP) which ran from
August to December 2000 provided considerable information about
the needs of departments. This was fed into the replacement systems
project, which became the House Administration Information System
(HAIS) project in recognition of the corporate nature of the project's
goals. The planning stages of the project have been completed,
and procurement started in April 2001. The aim is to replace the
staff payroll and personnel system from April 2002, and both Members
and Secretarial payroll and the financial and accounting system
from April 2003. The new generation of systems will make extensive
use of the Intranet to provide personnel, accounting and management
information services to all departments of the House.
2.14 CONTRACTS AND
The Department will identify opportunities for improving
the provision of contracts and procurement services advice.
The House's Procurement Advisory Service has been
further developed. Bought in on contract from the Inland Revenue,
this has facilitated a number of major procurement exercises during
the year. In particular, the consultancy framework agreement was
a significant success.
Review key operational processes in all areas with
a view to implementing significant improvements:
The Department has continued to standardise and streamline
operational functions and, in particular, to set up a new structure
(including further merger of common functions: payrolls, payments
processing, financial and management accounts).
2.16 MEETING CUSTOMER
Support improvements in specific areas wherever there
is a customer requirement:
A successful update of the Green Book and a new Quick
Guide to Members' pay and allowances was completed during the
course of the year. Following the introduction of new computer
systems, there are now more frequent electronic payment runs,
resulting in quicker payments to Members. There were teething
problems in providing Members with monthly statements of commitments
from their parliamentary allowances. These problems have now been
resolved. A pensions clinic was also successfully piloted.
2.17 CUSTOMER MEETINGS/SURVEYS
Institute regular customer meetings/surveys etc:
A series of meetings took place to introduce key
customers to the structural changes implemented in November 1999.
These started at Head of Department level and through to other
key recipients of the Department's services. The Personnel Office
regularly surveys Departmental Establishment Officers and other
key personnel staff in departments, and has achieved consistently
high satisfaction ratings. Regular contact with the Party Whips
has also taken place on Dissolution and General Election issues
as well as on the Senior Salaries Review Body Report on Members'
2.18 GENERAL ELECTION
Review and assess plans and preparation for a general
In addition to the participation in the House-wide
New Members' Induction Group, the various sections within the
Department which provide front line services to Members and their
staff have worked together in preparing material and information
for new Members after the General Election. In addition to this
the Directorate has also worked at providing advice and guidance
for all sitting Members as to what happens at the Dissolution.
It has made presentations on pay and allowance entitlements at
the weekly party meetings and also to the trade union meetings
for Members' staff. Factsheets written in the form of "frequently
asked questions" have also been prepared - not only as an
aid to Members and their staff but also to the Department's staff
who provide key services.
Work with the Review Body on Senior Salaries (SSRB)
on their consideration of allowances for Members:
The Department worked closely with SSRB officials
while they were preparing their report covering Members' pay and
allowances, which was published in March 2001. It is now preparing
for implementation of the recommendations during 2001-02 if the
House decides to accept them. This will be a major challenge,
as the proposals represent the most far-reaching changes to the
arrangements for a number of years.
INTERNAL REVIEW SERVICES DIRECTORATE
2.20 AUDIT AND
Undertake a programme of audit and staff review as
agreed by the relevant authorities:
The key milestone in the year, which is strongly
valued by IRS, has been the setting up of the House's Audit Committee
to advise the Accounting Officer.
IRS has now moved to a risk-based approach. This
approach was piloted on the History of Parliament Trust and on
binding and conservation in the Library. Both reviews were well
received by management and there was positive feedback from the
post-review questionnaires. The year has seen a further switch
of emphasis, with IRS concentrating less on "watchdog"
activities and more on advisory and preventative work.
The groundwork has been prepared for the House of
Commons to commit to establishing, developing and maintaining
a culture of House-wide risk awareness. A series of risk management
workshops to raise awareness in this area will be undertaken in
the forthcoming year. This will lead to a sustainable risk management
IRS has also worked with departments to develop and
implement systems for the scrutiny and validation of manpower
forecasts and the use of manpower in the context of the annual
resource planning exercise. This marks a step change from formal
staff inspection towards greater devolved responsibility for staffing
matters at departmental management level.
The number of projects completed in 2000-01 was nine
(compared to four in 1999-2000, five in 1998-99, six in 1997 -
98, and three in 1996-97). While the provision of adhoc advice
is still a feature of IRS' work the change from manpower planning
and control by complement to the current system of planning and
control by budget has, as predicted, resulted in a reduction of
the need to provide in-year advice on grading issues. To a large
extent this activity has been replaced by involvement in the process
for concentrated periods of time coinciding with the key stages
of the provisioning system.
2.21 SUPPORT FOR
Provide support and advice to the Personnel Policy
Directorate and Departments of the House on issues of grading,
organisation of work, and internal control:
On the staff and organisational review side, the
joint review of pay band A2 and Senior Commons Structure band
2 posts within the Clerk's Department was brought to a conclusion.
The review team consisted of the Review Manager and two representatives
of the Clerk's Department. The review focused on the recruitment
and development of the "clerkly" grades and raised a
number of significant issues that are currently under consideration.
A further milestone this year was the development
and publication of grading guidance for the pay band structure.
This will be the primary point of reference for managers making
decisions about the appropriate pay band levels at which to place
staff within the freedoms granted by the manpower planning guidelines.
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION