Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Evidence for the Parliamentary Select Committee—Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA)

6.1  BACKGROUND, AIM AND OBJECTIVES

Background and Aims

   6.1.1  VCA was launched as an executive agency in April 1990. The Agency is now part of the Driver, Vehicle Operator (DVO) group of organisations in the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). It is the UK authority responsible for ensuring that vehicles and vehicle parts have been designed and constructed to meet national and internationally agreed standards of safety and environmental protection. VCA also provide Management System Certification services to the international standards ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. Certification allows motor manufacturers to demonstrate that they have systems in place not only to ensure the quality of their products, but also to minimise and make continuous improvement to their effects on the environment during the manufacturing and design processes.

Business Environment and Structure

  6.1.2  VCA operates in a competitive market against Approval Authorities of other European governments; since any manufacturer can obtain type approval certificates from any EU Authority and the certificates are then recognised across the Union. Most of its staff are based at its headquarters in Bristol with the remainder operating from its Vehicle Type Approval Test Centre (VTAC) at Nuneaton and its offices in Detroit (USA) or Nagoya (Japan). VCA also has an extensive network of appointed Technical Services as well as Memoranda of Understanding with leading specialist independent providers who work under the auspices of VCA to provide service world-wide across the range of automotive testing and certification standards.

Objectives

  6.1.3  VCA contribute to DETR objectives of reducing deaths, injuries and the damaging environmental effects arising from transport. It provides a UK base for the Global Automotive Industry to gain legislative access to Europe. Specific objectives are:

Road Safety and Environmental Protection

    —  to ensure, through the relevant vehicle type approval scheme, that new vehicles and vehicles parts are designed and manufactured in conformity with appropriate road safety and environmental protection standards.

Customer Service

    —  to provide an approval and certification service which responds to the needs of industry and Departmental customers on price, speed, flexibility and effectiveness and to work with other parts of the DVO group to help ensure the services of the group are delivered in a seamless and integrated fashion.

Efficiency and finance

    —  to improve continuously its effectiveness and efficiency, to recover its costs taking one year with another and to meet financial and performance targets set by the Secretary of State.

Staff

    —  to value, develop and motivate staff.

Changes to VCA Aims

  6.1.4  The service provided revolves around European legislative schemes for vehicle type approval which have remained largely unchanged for the past decade. Even in 1990 much of the type approval work needed to be won in competition with other European Authorities. The onset of the Single Market and consequent gradual introduction of European Whole Vehicle Approval Schemes increased the proportion of business subject to such competition until today only a small percentage is under VCA monopoly. Increased attention to vehicle emissions (for instance in the MOT test and as a basis for Graduated Vehicle Excise Duty) brings the work of the Agency closer to the concerns of the public at large.

Management structure

  6.1.5  VCA is managed by a Management Board consisting of the Chief Executive, the Deputy Chief Executive, the Heads of the three operating branches, the head of Planning and Development and the Head of Finance. An organogram is shown below.




Experience

  6.1.6  All Board members have previously worked in UK industry (mainly in automotive manufacturers or suppliers) as well as in other DETR policy divisions or Agencies. External members of the Agency's Advisory Board are invited to attend Management Board meetings at strategic times.

6.2  PERFORMANCE AGAINST KEY TARGETS

   6.2.1  VCA has a range of targets and performance indicators covering financial, service and quality issues. The quality and service targets set by the Secretary of State (Key Targets) have changed over the years to reflect the concerns of the range of VCA stakeholders. For example accuracy of certificates issued is always a concern of customers but as cash flow has become an important issue for DETR (and VCA) targets which address performance in that respect have been introduced.

  
1998-99
1999-2000
Financial
Target
Outturn
Target
Outturn
1.To achieve break-even or better on the commercial accounts whilst achieving at least a 6% rate of return of capital employed
(Break-even)*
Not achieved (£54K operating loss)
(£20K operating profit)
Achieved (£154K operating profit)
2.To achieve the Agency's net running cost limit
Achieved*
Achieved
Achieved*
Achieved
Quality and Service
  
  
  
  
3.To have at least 98% of approvals issued error free
98%*
98.2% Achieved
98%*
99.1% Achieved
4.Where errors do occur, to issue corrected invoices within another time of x working days
3 days
1 day Achieved
3 days* Achieved
1 day Achieved
5.Where errors do occur, to issue corrected certificates within a median time of x working days
3 days
2 days Achieved
3 days* Achieved
1 day Achieved
6.To have at least 98% of invoices issued error free
97%*
98% Achieved
98%*
98.27% Achieved
7.To audit at least:
  
  
  
  
a.x% of VCA's type approval procedures*
50%*
53% Achieved
50%*
55% Achieved
b.x% of MSC certification procedures*
not a target
100%*
100% Achieved
c.all non-compliances having corrective action plans agreed within 30 days
not a target
100%*
89% Not achieved
d.corrective action plans being completed within the specified time
not a target
100%*
60% Not achieved
8.To ensure that the figure for debtor days is x or less
not a target
70*
54 Achieved
9.To invoice within one month after the completion of all MSC assessment activities
not a target
100%*
49% Not achieved
10.To receive a satisfactory appraisal report on VCA's technical performance from the Department of Transport's Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME)
Achieved*
Achieved

*  indicates Key Target set by the Secretary of State in the year in question.

  6.2.2  Failure to cover costs in 1998-99 was due to a larger than forecast downturn in type approval work brought about by the Asian financial crisis.

  6.2.3  Failure to achieve 1999-2000 targets 7(c) and 7(d) on corrective actions was largely due to a decision to concentrate on customer-related priorities, particularly type approval work, rather than on correcting non-critical failures in procedures. All non-compliance cases were closed, however VCA are now keeping on top of this.

  6.2.4  Failure to achieve target 9 in 1999-2000 on speed of invoicing was caused by delay in making the necessary changes to procedures and because of on-going problems in getting customers to agree complex draft invoices. Most of these problems have now been overcome and in the 4th quarter 86 per cent of invoices were issued within target time.

Vision and targets for 2000-01 and beyond

  6.2.5  VCA strategy is to satisfy customers' expectations gathered through regular customer surveys and from frequent and ongoing discussions with individual customers.

  6.2.6  The competitive business environment keeps attention focused on the customer. The new challenges set by Modernising Government means changes to organisation, working practices and customer access. While VCA dealings with the general public are minimal the Agency still ensure they play their part in providing a seamless and efficient service.

  6.2.7  Feedback from industry customers is that VCA must continue to deliver and enhance its services in the following key areas:

    —  Professional and technically competent staff.

    —  Reputation and wide acceptability of our certificates and assessments.

    —  Ability to deliver ontime.

    —  Speedy response.

    —  Rapid and easy communication with key VCA staff around the world.

    —  Rapid turn-around time for certificates.

    —  Ability to provide testing and approvals at short notice and to cope with changes in assessment programmes whenever necessary.

    —  Authoritative initial advice and guidance on type approval and system certification.

  6.2.8  For the individual members of the public who use any of the services of the DVO group feedback tells us VCA must continue to deliver and enhance its services in the following key areas:

    —  Helpful advice and services to the public on aspects within our responsibility, coupled with swift, correct and friendly redirection to other sources of information and services within the DVO group or the wider public service, where that is appropriate.

    —  Accurate, timely, useful and easily manageable data on a range of type approval topics for use in enforcement, taxation, testing and recall schemes.

    —  Timely and value adding support on the development of new and existing standards and legislation making.

    —  Technically sound and timely enforcement testing and follow-up programmes.

    —  Co-operation and involvement where necessary on new cross-agency projects and on the themes of the DVO group.

Customer Service Improvement Programme

  6.2.9  To deliver the improvements customers and partners are looking for the Agency focus on five themes:

    —  Provide information and advice:  Achieve excellence and exceed industry's expectations in provision of information, data, advice and interpretation on automotive and systems certification standards. That implies keeping abreast of new and forthcoming standards and technologies and delivering with an authoritative, technically sound, practical, consistent and value adding approach.

    —  Strengthen expertise:  Strengthen technical expertise, testing capability and administrative professionalism, by recruiting and training sufficient automotive engineers, system assessors and support staff and in addition work effectively with partner Technical Services in type approval work and other partners in our system certification and information businesses. At the same time we must maintain appropriate control and the "intelligent-customer" capability in our dealings with all those partners.

    —  Streamline systems:  Re-engineer business systems so that job handling, invoicing, accounting and external communication meet current and (where possible) future needs of customers, stakeholders and the Agency.

    —  Motivate and Develop staff:  Continue to improve internal communication, staff development, personnel and reward systems and our tools and facilities so that we maintain an enthusiastic and committed workforce to be verified through staff surveys.

    —  Business Development:  Identify and develop additional profitable business; set and achieve financial targets.

2000-01 Key Targets

  6.2.10  Key Targets set by the Secretary of State are to:

    —  Achieve break-even or better on the commercial accounts whilst achieving at least a 6 per cent rate of return on capital employed.

    —  Issue 98 per cent of approval certificates error free.

    —  Score at least 90 per cent on the quality and service matrix targets shown in the Business Plan.

    —  Ensure that the figure for debtor days is 65 or less.

    —  Ensure that invoices for Management System Certification work are issued within an average of 30 days after completion of the chargeable work.

    —  Achieve Trading Fund status by 31 March 2001.

6.3  CUSTOMER SERVICE

  6.3.1  The real tests for the Agency is its ability to compete successfully. VCA aim to do this by providing flexible, pragmatic and swift testing and certifications, backed up by excellent information and interpretation. Another test is to perform the statutory public role of ensuring standards are met effectively, whilst at the same time helping UK and other motor industry manufacturers to gain certifications which allow them access to Europe and beyond. In the 1998-99 customer survey VCA scored BEST against the main competitors. An improvement over 1995-96 where they were second best. The fact that customers continue to use VCA when they have alternative choices for most business is itself evidence of satisfaction with performance.

  6.3.2  Close and regular consultation with the motor industry is maintained through twice-yearly Type Approval Liaison Committee meetings with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The Agency attend meetings of the vehicle Importers Homologation Group, similar liaison meetings hosted by DETR(C), including the high level Vehicle Safety Liaison Group and the SMMT's Joint Engineering Committee.

  6.3.3  Regular audits and visits are conducted for all partners operating significant programmes with the Agency.

Code of Practice

  6.3.4  A Code of Practice on Customer Services is addressed both to industry customers and to members of the public who contact VCA. Five complaints were received during 1999-2000. All were answered to the satisfaction of the complainant. The Agency is working with colleagues in other DVO Agencies to develop new life-event Charters.

Performance against other Internal Service and Quality Targets

  6.3.5  As well as the main customer service targets shown earlier the Agency also monitor performance against a number of internal service and quality targets. Performance has improved over the last two years in most areas despite having to train a number of new type approval certification staff over the period.

Service and Quality targets

TYPE APPROVAL

  
1998-99
1999-2000
  
Target
Actual
Target
Actual
From technically cleared to issued—days to process
  
  
  
  
System and component
  
  
  
  
50% of jobs
5
7
5
4
90% of jobs
9
10
9
9
Whole vehicle      
50% of jobs
4
1
4
2
90% of jobs
20
12
20
10
When errors in type approval certificates do occur, for whatever reason, the median time taken to issue correct documents shall be within x working days of notification*
3
2 days
3
1 day
To conduct at least one audit on each of our Technical Services and Agents during the year
Not achieved (2 Technical Services not scheduled in)
Achieved
System Certification      
Certificates to be issued within one month of the completion of assessments and closure of non-compliances
Not set as a target
92% Not achieved
95% of assessment reports to be error free when reviewed by Head of Operations
Not set as a target
Approx 90% Not achieved
No assessment recommendations concurred by Head of Operations to be rejected by the VCA Certification Compliance Committee
Not set as a target
Achieved
To pay x% of undisputed invoices received within 30 days
95%
95.9%
95%
98.5%


Training and Investors and People

  6.3.6  Two programmes to deliver service improvements are through information technology systems (IT) and better management and training of staff round Investors in People (IiP) and Modernising Government standards. Both require up-front investment and neither necessarily lead to being able to provide cheaper services at lower cost; more often the service is at the higher level demanded by the customer.

Information Technology

  6.3.7  The main themes of VCA's IT (and wider e-commerce/ICT) development strategy are to :

    —  enable ready electronic exchange of type approval documentation with customers, other approval authorities, parts of government, particularly the DVO Group, and the public; in particular to meet the government's targets for electronic communication;

    —  further develop electronic handling and storage of key operational documentation and reports;

    —  improve "knowledge management" of information on new standards, interpretations and customer needs and requests so that all relevant staff have live access and input to such information databases;

    —  improve support, reliability and robustness and contingency plans for our software and hardware systems;

    —  improve effectiveness and efficiency of our use of standard office software;

    —  ensure our IT systems are compatible with others in the DVO group whenever that is appropriate;

    —  piggy-back on wider government systems for e-purchasing;

    —  improve the linkages and usefulness of our website to both customers and VCA (as a marketing tool).

E-business strategy

  6.3.8  In support of this strategy a number of projects are due to be completed during 2000-2001. Dovetailing with the infrastructure upgrades necessary to achieve better communication, implementation of "Tempo" (integrated time recording/job register application) will be completed in Bristol later in 2000, with roll out to the other offices following shortly thereafter. The "Tempo" application will facilitate much improved efficient working practices allowing easy time recording and subsequent billing, along with electronic expenses processing and enhanced management information.

Work-flow Management

  6.3.9  The next major priority is to complete the implementation and development of the document management and work-flow application purchased last year. Roll out has had to fit around other priorities, but it is still an essential part of the drive to improve the efficiency of processes and provide for the handling of customer information in various paper and electronic formats. Integrated with the document management system we will further utilise the "Q-Pulse" application for controlling documents and "Trove" and desktop publishing software for developing publications. Our electronic Type Approval Handbook delivered using the "Trove" application has been well received and will be further developed and made available commercially to outside customers. It is important to use IT to manage the wide range of information on standards in forthcoming legislation.

IT Expenditure

  
1998-1999 (£000)
1999-2000 (£000)
2000-2001 (£000)
Capital
103
186
233
Running Costs
44
48
125
Staff Costs (Approx)
66
65
70

6.4  DVO STRATEGIC APPROACH

  6.4.1  The Chief Executive is a member of the DVO Strategy Board and VCA staff provide input to a number of the sub-groups and project teams, including those on new publications, marketing, personnel and smart tachgraphs. Many of the larger projects are led by other Agencies but VCA participates in all the relevant groups, for instance the main IT support re-tendering project, and provides input to the long term development of DVO policies, process and services. VCA is a key player together with DVLA and DETR(C) in the Graduated VED project and in providing returns for the CO2 reporting Directive.

CO2 emissions website

  6.4.2  One of the main areas where DVO has helped to focus effort is in the promotion of public awareness of vehicle emissions. VCA, DVLA and DETR(C) have worked together with Treasury, Inland Revenue and vehicle manufacturers (SMMT) to produce a user friendly website (and similar paper publications) which enable users to compare the emissions and fuel consumption of different cars and to predict the levels of VED and company car tax.

  6.4.3  While VCA maintained good working relations with those parts of the other DVO Agencies before the introduction of the DVO concept, the initiative has altered the way the Agency thinks of its work. There is now much greater recognition of the other Agencies and DETR(C) working together to deliver improvements to citizens and business. The focus on "life events" has strengthened the approach.

6.5  MODERNISING GOVERNMENT

Better Business Planning

  6.5.1  As a fee-earning, competitive business VCA has a regular business planning process. That is being tuned to align better with DETR timetables and also to make the process of planning-monitoring-acting, more robust. This is supported by risk management techniques and by continually revisiting our disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Over the past two years VCA have developed new software designed to base our planning forecasts on our product lines and then to link this with our newly designed in-year monitoring information.

Motivated and well equipped staff

  6.5.2  Continually improving the management, motivation and training of staff has long been an aim of VCA. The Agency has an open management culture and a Total Quality philosophy—aim to get each part of the process right first time but to improve it whenever possible. There are, of needs, several written procedures but the Agency aim to create the right atmosphere, conditions and feedback opportunities to encourage the participation of staff at all levels in the continuous improvement of the business through work improvement groups and other methods.

  6.5.3  Attention has been given to improving pay for specialist staff. Work will continue on that with a view to implementing new arrangements in 2000. A group bonus scheme rewards hitting or exceeding business targets.

Partnership and equality and diversity

  6.5.4  Two-way communication is encouraged through regular line management operations, the staff performance and appraisal system, the VCA Newsnote, Suggestion Boards and a range of group briefings. Management consult trade unions directly and through the Whitley arrangements. Open and fair competition for recruitment and promotion, together with a robust Diversity policy and action plan, supported by agency-wide awareness training, all underpin our personnel policies.

Investor in People

  6.5.5  Maintaining Investor in People (IiP) accreditation (won in July 1999) is a priority. Much of the training for Product Certification staff is in-house whilst Management System Certification staff and contractors continue to attend mandatory external courses and examinations. Further training will be provided on office software and the use of the Web. Making wider use of the Web for information gathering/sharing is seen as a career development competency.

Health and Safety

  6.5.6  A programme of redecoration and health and safety assessment at all leased premises is aimed at providing the right environment for staff to work. Environmental friendly practices include:

    —  working with local authorities and transport operators to make travel by public transport more convenient for staff;

    —  encouraging car sharing and providing facilities at Nuneaton to encourage cycling to work (facilities have already been provided at Bristol);

    —  positively considering minimal energy usage in all purchasing requirements and service contracts and achieving targets for the reductions detailed in our Green Plan;

    —  reducing paper via use of electronic media.

6.6  GLOBAL VEHICLE CERTIFICATION

Competition

  6.6.1  Major customers (Jaguar, Ford, Rolls Royce, Toyota Derby, Honda Swindon, Nissan Sunderland) have large programmes in train or planned with VCA. All these UK based manufacturers and many others, large and small, want to work with VCA's flexible and sympathetic (yet robust and impartial) high status service. Many other companies world-wide want to work with VCA because they offer highly regarded certificates that they would not get from any other Authority. Newly agreed type approval and management system certification standards underlie much of this work and promise still more.

  6.6.2  VCA is continuing to play an enthusiastic part in the DVO project and will be making a significant contribution in verifying the emissions data for the graduated VED schemes. That initiative has highlighted VCA's potential to be a focused supplier of specialist information and, in the current environment of market need for such consumer information and choice, that may offer additional, but as yet unforeseen, revenue streams. Indeed being part of Government and providing both a Technical Service and Approval Authority, is seen by customers as a strength for VCA.

  6.6.3  Although there are currently good prospects, the level of mainstream business could fluctuate because of changes resulting from mergers in the global auto-industry. Whilst the result of the BMW sale of Rover to Phoenix and Ford should re-establish VCA's work with these companies any future uncertainties about Phoenix could influence VCA workload to some degree. The strong German influences in Daimler-Chrysler (Chrysler are our most important US customer), the Volkswagen purchase of Rolls-Royce/Bentley could and the virtually complete takeover of the (once proud) UK truck industry have similar effects in the future although the indications at present are otherwise.  [Asked VCA to reconsider the naming of names.]

Business Growth

  6.6.4  Despite some uncertainty VCA's judgement is that, with some increased effort on selling its service to customers, there is the potential for continued growth in the overall level of type approval and management system certification work. However, much of the benefit of that growth (ie providing a better service and more information to UK industry) will be absorbed by the need to constrain charges to what the market will stand which means keeping below the rate of inflation.

Business Risks

  6.6.5  The volume of new standards, particularly those addressing new areas of work, often means requests for advice or information or the setting up and piloting of schemes for the Department's policy divisions (VSE and VET). In the past that was often not paid for, on the basis that "there will be plenty of testing from all this". However this is not quite so easy in practice because of annuality. Moreover, it is very difficult to recover such investment if the costs cannot be spread over a significant number of tests. A number of these new standards involve after-market or component manufacturers new to regulation and who therefore require significantly more help than VCA's larger existing customers.VCA can often provide a great deal of advice and support for these UK businesses and hence help them to sell in Europe and beyond, but the costs of that in full is difficult to achieve through direct charges to these often small and diverse range of customers and the subsequent testing and approval work for VCA may not be that substantial.

Partners

  6.6.6  Appointing new private sector agents to work on our behalf, which is difficult to decline, particularly in the UK, can mean less profitable technical work for VCA but nevertheless requires intensive management to educate them and keep them up to scratch and well informed. These costs too can be difficult to recoup. Altogether the Agency is providing more effort which is neither directly nor indirectly related to its fee-earning activity but which is supporting industry or developing UK government policies. Whilst these costs have until now been borne as an overhead, this can no longer continue in the competitive climate in which VCA finds itself. The move to Trading Fund now being planned will help absorb these sorts of variations in income and expenditure and DETRis now recognising the need to fund some of this activity. The Trading Fund financial regime ensures that the needs of paying customers can be met and the public purse receives a financial return on capital employed in the business over, usually, a five year period taking one year with another. This longer planning and delivery time horizon aids medium term business and investment planning and avoids inefficiencies imposed by year-end closing of the books.

Management System Certification

  6.6.7  Competition for Management System Certification business is fierce. This is the direction taken by the larger companies VCA works with. More detailed, probing and specialist assessments so as to add value. This has been the marketing strategy and VCA aim to capitalise on accumulated expertise.

Marketable Skills

  6.6.8  VCA face competition in recruiting and retaining engineers who have the right professional and personal skills to deal with the judgements on quality, service and risk that they are now having to make. The Agency is reviewing pay and grading arrangements. This will almost certainly place upward pressure on VCA costs while customers are looking to exert downward pressure on VCA charges. A tension it may prove difficult to manage. This could put a break on business growth. However the aim is to offset those increased costs with efficiencies coming from improvements in internal management information, accounting and document management systems combined with better absorption of overheads through growth in business. This will be difficult to manage but failure to address recruitment and retention would dampen business growth. If the agency lack skilled engineers time critical projects, as most of them are, will be taken to approval authorities abroad.

Maintaining standards

  6.6.9  VCA maintains a robust yet reasonable approach to the application and supervision processes of European type approval standards. This is far removed from "gold-plating" as characterised by critics of some UK regulatory regimes. This robustness puts VCA at a business disadvantage with some industry customers who seek only the easy solution, and with competitor Authorities that are seen as being willing to provide it. This is not helped by low charges offered by some subsidised competitors from other EU governments, particularly when the auto-industry is increasingly interested in lowering costs.

Business Strategy

  6.6.10  The Ministerial Advisory Board has endorsed VCA's approach of:

    —  ensuring standards are met;

    —  providing approval and certification services to industry;

    —  providing advice and guidance to industry; and

    —  providing advice and support for the development of Government policy and negotiations in Europe.

6.7  MAJOR REVIEWS

  6.7.1  VCA was one of the Agencies included in the DVO review conducted during 1998. That review examined the fundamental aims of the group of Agencies as well as the option for structural organisation. It concluded that the best way forward was the DVO Strategy Board approach now in place. That review was informed by an Evaluation Report on the performance of Agency over the period 1994-99.

Customer Survey

  6.7.2  In the context of VCA's operations and size the independent customer survey undertaken every three years effectively constitutes a significant review of the Agency's performance. The last survey was conducted in summer 1998 with the results discussed with the VCA Advisory Board and featured in the 1998-99 Annual Report. The Agency scored "best" against its European competitors over a range of "key importance factors" agreed by Industry. The next survey is due to take place in summer 2001.

Audit

  6.7.3  VCA's accounts are subject to audit by the National Audit Office and are published as Annual Report and Accounts. NAO audit has not identified any significant problem. Regular internal audits of financial and support systems (including IT security, travel and subsistence accommodation) are undertaken every year. There have been no significant problems identified. An audit of recruitment and promotion policies was conducted by the Civil Service Commission in 1998.

ISO Accreditation

  6.7.4  VCA is subject to regular review in connection with accreditation to perform ISO 9000 and 14000 and other similar certifications undertaken by the UK and USA national accreditation bodies.

6.8  CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

  6.8.1  VCA's need for continuous improvement is driven principally by two factors:

    —  industry customers' desire for an ever more flexible and informative service delivered over a shorter time-scale at no increase in or at less cost; and

    —  Ministers' desire for the effective introduction of better (usually more complex) standards which offer improved road safety and environmental protection.

  To balance this tension VCA operate a rolling business planning system. With continually re-assessment of customer needs and control on costs to keep any fee increase at or below the retail price index.

Investment

  6.8.2  Future investment will be focused on training to keep staff up-to-date with emerging standards and techniques. Staff will need to become expert in the latest car emissions standards, featuring revised test cycles and on-board diagnostics together with forthcoming similar changes in heavy engine standards. The importance of software in standards covering safety-related vehicle systems is also increasing. New, highly detailed and demanding standards for management system assessment are also being introduced in 2000-04.

  6.8.3  A second priority is IT/communications to meet the data exchange and access demands of industry, the public and other parts of government. Electronic exchange of the very diverse and complex range of type approval data with a variety of manufacturers and other approval authorities, and then handling and storing that data internally will be the central feature of our IT programme over the coming years.

6.9  KEY FACTS AND FIGURES

  
1998-99 £000 (Actual)
1999-2000 £000 (Actual)
2000-01 £000 (Forecast)
Turnover
4,827
4,999
5,550
Cost of sales and administrativeexpense etc
(3,092)
(2,877)
(5,400)
Operating Surplus/(Deficit)
(54)
156
150
Notional interest payable
(76)
(94)
(50)
Surplus/(Deficit) for the year
(130)
(62)
100
Running costs (cash)
  
  
  
Staff costs (including socialsecurity, pension and bonuspayments)
2290
2472
2798
Estates (UK)
415
279
308
General Admin Expenditure
1980
1791
2294
Capital charge
19
19
21
 
4704
4561
5389
Capital     
Computing equipment
103
186
88*
Testing equipment
0
14
20
Office machinery and furniture
38
13
28
 
141
213
136
 
  
  
(note—+£145 ICT bid)
Staff Numbers
  
  
  
Professional and technical
43
44
47
Administration and support
43
43
45


  6.9.1  The higher levels of turnover in 1999-2000 and forecast for 2000-01 are as a result of increases in type approval programmes and also in enforcement and information programmes undertaken for DETR. The increased capital provision in both years compared with earlier arose from the purchase of hardware and software to support new office applications and electronic document management.

  6.9.2  VCA operate under a net running cost financial regime. This provides useful flexibility particularly as demand for our services rises but also requires careful cash management particularly over recent years where as a result of customer pressure, much more of our work has been charged in arrears.

6.10  LIST OF REFERENCE DOCUMENTS

  The following documents, referred to in the text are all enclosed. Further copies are available from VCA, 1 Eastgate Office Centre, Eastgate Road, Bristol BS56XX.

  1.  VCA Framework Document—May 2000

  2.  VCA Annual Report andAccounts 1998-99

  3.  VCA Annual Report and Accounts 1999-2000

  4.  VCA Business Plan 2000-01

  5.  New Car Fuel Consumption and Emission figures—July 2000 (also on http:www.vca.gov.uk/fcb.htm)

  6.  VCA Code of Practice


 
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