Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence


MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE
THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE


WEDNESDAY 17 JANUARY 2001

Members present:

Mr Tony Wright, in the Chair
Mr David LepperMr Andrew Tyrie
Mr Michael TrendMr Brian White


Memorandum by the Performance and Innovation Unit

THE ROLE OF THE PERFORMANCE AND INNOVATION UNIT

SUMMARY AND CONTENTS

  This brief written evidence provides a summary of the work conducted by the PIU since its establishment in 1998.

  It includes:

    —  An overview of the PIU and its role

    —  A summary of published reports and their impacts:

      —  Encryption and Law Enforcement (May 1999)

      —  E-Commerce (September 1999)

      —  Rural Economies (December 1999)

      —  Wiring it Up (January 2000)

      —  Adding it Up (January 2000)

      —  Reaching Out (February 2000)

      —  Winning the Generation Game (April 2000)

      —  Recovering the Proceeds of Crime (June 2000)

      —  Counter Revolution (June 2000)

      —  Adoption (July 2000)

      —  E.Gov (September 2000)

      —  Rights of Exchange (September 2000)

    —  Overview of current projects

      —  Migration

      —  Leadership in the Public Sector

      —  Privacy and Data-Sharing

      —  Health in Developing Countries

      —  Resource Productivity

      —  Workforce Development

      —  Modernising Government Loans

      —  Strategic Challenges

  i.  The Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) was established in 1998 as a result of Sir Richard Wilson's review of the centre of government.

  ii.  It provides the Prime Minister and Government departments with a capacity to analyse major policy issues and design strategic solutions.

  iii.  The PIU primarily works on individual projects, using small teams drawn from within government and the wider public, private and voluntary sectors. Recent projects have covered topics as varied as e-commerce and the rural economy, the future of the Post Office and trade policy. Most of the topics are long-term strategic issues that cut across departmental boundaries.

  iv.  The PIU brings a distinctive approach to bear, combining rigorous analysis of the evidence; extensive consultation, particularly with practitioners; and creative thinking to break out of the confines of conventional wisdom.

  v.  The Unit works very closely with No10 Downing Street, the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury. It reports directly to the Prime Minister through the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Richard Wilson.

  vi.  There is a strong emphasis on practical results. Most PIU reports are published as agreed Government policy and move quickly into implementation.

  vii.  Current projects include: privacy and data-sharing; workforce development; resource productivity and renewable energy; global public health; the modernisation of government loans; and a study on the UK's readiness for the future.

  viii.  The Unit has about 50-60 staff at any one time. It is based in Admiralty Arch, just off Trafalgar Square.

SUMMARY OF COMPLETED PROJECTS

1.  ENCRYPTION AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

Background

  1.1  A short-term project commissioned by the Prime Minister in February 1999 to run alongside a longer term PIU project on e-commerce. Report published in May 1999.

Key issues:

  1.1  The key issues addressed by the project were:

    —  The need to strike a balance between the aim of making the UK the best place in the world for e-commerce and the aim of ensuring that it remains a safe country in which to live and work.

    —  Identification of acceptable trade-offs between increasing consumers' levels of trust in e-commerce through the use of encryption technology and preserving law enforcement's need to intercept and retrieve data.

    —  Identification of the key techniques or systems necessary to sustain law enforcement capabilities in the face of increased use of encryption technology by criminals.

Key recommendations

  3.1  The voluntary licensing of encryption providers will improve consumer confidence and support the development of e-commerce. But there should be no mandatory requirement for licensed providers to retain "decryption keys" or to lodge them with third parties.

  3.2  The Government should adopt a new approach based on co-operation with industry.

  3.3  A new Government/industry joint forum should be established to discuss the development of encryption technologies and to ensure that the needs of law enforcement agencies are taken into account by the market.

  3.4  A new Technical Assistance Centre should be established, operating on a 24-hour basis, to help law enforcement agencies derive intelligence from lawfully intercepted encrypted communications and lawfully retrieved stored data.

  3.5  The UK Government should work with foreign governments with a view to seeking support for a new forum to promote co-operation.

Outcomes

  3.6  The report has helped to establish a new approach to encryption based on closer co-operation between Government and industry. This approach is being pursued through a Government-Industry Forum on Encryption and Law Enforcement.

  3.7  Two key pieces of legislation have been passed by Parliament:

    —  Part I of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 provides for a Government approvals regime for cryptographic service providers. These providers are helping to develop the environment for secure business-to-business and business-to-customer transactions using cryptography.

    —  Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 establishes the provisions to maintain the effectiveness of existing law enforcement powers in the face of increasing criminal use of encryption.

3.  E-COMMERCE

Background

  1.1  Project commissioned in the wake of the Competitiveness White Paper published in Autumn 1998. The White Paper set the aim of making the UK the best environment for electronic commerce. The project report, [email protected], was published in September 1999.

Key issues

  1.2  The project identified four key challenges to the achievement of the Government's aims:

    —  Lack of a clear regulatory framework and of clarity in some areas of tax policy.

    —  Low understanding of the potential benefits and challenges at all levels in the public and private sectors.

    —  Inter-connected issues relating to access—and especially of delivery of on-line services at a local level.

    —  The extent to which businesses and consumers lack trust in e-commerce systems compared to physical channels.

Key recommendations

  4.1  The project made 60 detailed recommendations grouped around three key priorities:

    —  Overcoming business inertia—the best UK companies are world class, but many are lagging behind. There is a clear need to bring all companies up to the level of the best, with particular emphasis on small businesses.

    —  Ensuring that Government's own actions drive the take-up of e-commerce—immediate appointment of an e-Minister and e-Envoy to drive through a sustained programme of activity on electronic service delivery and electronic procurement.

    —  Ensuring better co-ordination between Government and industry—to gain maximum benefit from existing and proposed programmes on such things as access, regulatory framework and tariff structures.

Outcomes

  3.1  This highly influential report defined Government thinking and policy development on e-commerce. It led to the establishment of new mechanisms to co-ordinate and drive forward policy-making, including the appointment of an e-Minister and e-Envoy to lead work on the Information Age agenda across Government.

  3.2  The report led to an accelerated timetable for getting all Government services online (brought forward from 2008 to 2005) and to the development of the UK online brand as a focus for communicating all the Government's work in delivering electronic services. It also led to a re-evaluation of the appropriate regulatory regime for the converging sectors of telecommunications and broadcasting and to a liberalised regime for the re-use of Government information in digital form at marginal cost. A detailed summary of actions taken is available on the e-envoy's website.

4.  RURAL ECONOMIES

Background

  2.1  Project commissioned in December 1998 to clarify the Government's overall objectives for rural economies. Report published in December 1999.

Key issues

  2.2  The key issues identified by the project were:

    —  rural communities are facing a myriad of problems as a result of social and economic change;

    —  the current policy framework (rooted in the 1940s) has failed to keep pace with changing priorities, and without policy changes, these problems will only get worse;

    —  a radical new approach to policy is needed based on a clear and coherent vision for the future of the countryside.

Key recommendations

  3.1  The Government should aim to encourage and support the creation of productive, sustainable and inclusive rural economies. This needs action in four main areas:

    —  Economic policy—including: making the planning system more supportive of economic development and diversification; introducing measures to develop the telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas; enriching the rural skills base through the roles of the Regional Development Agencies and University for Industry; and providing better business advice in rural areas.

    —  Environmental policy—including: the development of new policy instruments such as offset mechanisms and impact charges; consideration of a national framework for basing the protection of land on its environmental value; and directing more agricultural support to agri-environment schemes.

    —  Agricultural policy—including: making the reform of the CAP the key priority in future negotiations; using the provisions of the CAP's Rural Development Regulation to re-direct a proportion of direct payments to farmers into agri-environment schemes and rural development.

    —  Social policy—including: innovative approaches to service delivery; a specific commitment to boosting the role of market towns; support for social housing; and improving access to private, public and voluntary transport.

Outcomes

  4.1  This well-received report formed the basis of the Rural White Paper that was published on 28 November 2000. The White Paper aims to ensure a fair deal for rural areas by delivering high-quality services, tackling social exclusion, encouraging economic diversity, protecting the countryside and increasing local choice through parish and town councils.

  4.2  Specific proposals include: an extra £37 million extra for market town regeneration; £240 million for rural transport schemes; provision of 9,000 affordable homes; and increased help for farm diversification and conversion of redundant buildings. In addition, the White Paper put in place a number of measures to ensure the "rural proofing" of Government policies and 15 new indicators covering all aspects of the countryside to be reported on in an annual Countryside Report.

5.  WIRING IT UP

Background

  3.1  Project commissioned in December 1998 to look at how Government can better deal with cross-cutting issues, and what can be done to remove some of the barriers to "joining up" the Whitehall "machine". Report published in January 2000.

Key issues

  3.2  The report identified the following key issues:

    —  There is a tendency to take a provider-centred perspective rather than thinking about the service user.

    —  There is little incentive or reward for organisations to contribute to corporate goals or those of another department or organisation.

    —  The skills and capacity to develop/deliver cross-cutting solutions are often absent.

    —  Budgets and organisational structures are arranged around vertical (functional) lines rather than horizontal (cross-cutting) lines.

    —  Systems of accountability and the way risk is handled can militate against innovative cross-cutting working.

    —  The centre is not always effective at giving clear strategic direction and conflict resolution mechanisms can be weak.

Key recommendations

  5.2  The report's 42 recommendations were aimed at bringing about fundamental changes in six key areas:

    —  stronger leadership from Ministers and senior civil servants—to create a culture which values cross-cutting policies and services, with systems of rewards and recognition to reinforce desired outcomes;

    —  improved policy formulation and implementation—to take better account of cross-cutting problems and issues, by giving more emphasis to the interests and views of the those outside central government and who use and deliver services;

    —  equipping civil servants with the necessary skills and capacity;

    —  using budgets flexibly—to promote cross-cutting working, including using more cross-cutting budgets and pooling of resources;

    —  using audit and external scrutiny—to reinforce cross-cutting working and encourage sensible risk taking;

    —  using the centre (No10, Cabinet Office and Treasury) to lead the drive to more effective cross-cutting approaches.

Outcomes

  3.15  The report has significantly influenced thinking and the direction of reform in a number of areas (eg Civil Service reform). Cross cutting approaches were a central theme of the 2000 Spending Review which established a number of cross-cutting budgets (eg £800 million over three years for Neighbourhood Renewal and £450 million over three years to tackle child poverty), and feature prominently in a number of Public Service Agreements. A Policy Innovation Fund has been established to provide £50 million a year from 2001-02 to support cross cutting initiatives between Spending Reviews. The CMPS is organising new training programmes and other activities for Ministers and civil servants based on cross cutting working.

4.  ADDING IT UP

BACKGROUND

  4.1  Project commissioned in December 1998 in the wake of the Modernising Government White Paper to look critically at the role of analysis and modelling in policy making. Report published in January 2000.

Key issues

    —  The demand for good quality analysis is not embedded in the culture of central government.

    —  External pressures (eg EU negotiations, manifesto commitments) can constrain the scope for analysis.

    —  Tight political deadlines do not always allow time for proper analysis.

    —  Long-term work tends to be crowded out by short-term priorities.

    —  There is poor central co-ordination and planning.

    —  The relevant analytical skills are in short supply.

Key recommendations

  6.1  The report identified actions in five key areas in order to bring about a fundamental change in culture:

    —  the need for leadership from Ministers and senior civil servants—who should expect and demand soundly based analysis in support of policy;

    —  the need for incentives for the highest standards of analysis—both through new financial arrangements and increased openness to scrutiny;

    —  the need to plan analytical provision so it matches policy needs—with departments preparing analytical strategies as part of their business plans;

    —  the need to spread best practice—through such things as better networking between specialists in Government;

    —  the use of more innovative approaches to recruit and retain the best analysts—such as better use of promotion and increased use of secondments.

Outcomes

  4.14  Good progress has been made in bringing about the fundamental change in culture sought by the project. On the demand side, most departments are now planning to ensure that the selection of policy instruments is based on evidence. An Evidence Based Policy Fund has been created with a budget of £4 million over two years to help fill gaps in research and analytical work. The Treasury has developed a template for Departments to assess whether their PSA objectives are underpinned by evidence.

  4.15  On the supply side, the heads of the Government Economic Service and other professional groups are taking forward a review of the numbers/type of analysts needed in departments to promote evidence based policy making.

5.  REACHING OUT

Background

  5.1  Project commissioned in December 1998 with a brief to look at how the co-ordination of central government activity at a regional and local level could be improved. Report published in February 2000.

Key issues

  5.2  The project identified the following key issues:

    —  Central Government initiatives which affect the same people in local areas are not co-ordinated.

    —  This lack of co-ordination is reducing the effectiveness of these initiatives, not least in the areas that need them most.

    —  Unnecessary management burdens are being placed on local organisations.

    —  Regional networks of Government Departments are fragmented, with no part of central Government responsible for bringing its contribution together to assist local areas.

    —  These problems are becoming more acute.

Key recommendations

  Establishment of a new Regional Co-ordination Unit based in DETR but overseen by an external Minister to strengthen co-ordination of policy initiatives.

  Enhanced role for Government Offices in the Regions.

  Government Offices to continue to work closely with Regional Development Agencies.

  Greater focus needed on strategic outcomes of central Government initiatives affecting local areas, with success judged against these.

  SR 2000 to make greater linking of area initiatives a priority.

Outcomes

  4.1  The Regional Co-ordination Unit (RCU) was established shortly after publication of the report and an increased role for Government Offices in the Regions was also announced. The RCU is overseen by the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, reporting to the Deputy Prime Minister.

  5.2  Decisions in the 2000 Spending Review explicitly reflected several of the report's conclusions—in particular, the consolidation of regeneration programmes and the creation of Local Strategic Partnerships to achieve better local integration.

  5.3  New posts in the Government Offices, including regional directors, are being recruited to carry out the role envisaged in the report.

  5.4  In October 2000, the RCU published an action plan outlining how the Government intend to modernise the way it works at regional and local level, in line with the PIU report. The plan set out the aim of involving GOs more fully in a wide range of policies, including neighbourhood renewal, local government, rural issues, education, health, crime and drugs, asylum, prison and probation issues, culture, media and sport, and legal services.

6.  WINNING THE GENERATION GAME

Background

  7.1  Project commissioned in December 1998 to assess the implications for Government of the sharp decline in the number of people working in their 50s and early 60s. Report published in April 2000.

Key issues

  6.1  In the past 20 years, the proportion of men between 50 and State Pension Age who are not working has doubled. A third of men and women in this range (2.8 million people) are now not working.

    —  Most have not left work voluntarily and almost half receive most of their income in state benefits. Early exists from work contribute substantially to poverty.

    —  People who leave work early often experience growing disillusionment and exclusion. They are not replacing paid work with community activities such as volunteering.

    —  The total economic cost is high. The cost to the economy since 1979 amounts to £16 billion a year in lost GDP and £3-5 billion in extra benefits and lost taxes.

    —  Demographic factors mean that the problem could get much worse.

4.1  Key recommendations

  Changing the culture—by setting out the Government's vision of the role and value of older people in society, and by Government setting an example in its own employment practices. Consideration of age discrimination legislation if the current Code of Practice on Age Diversity is found to have been unsuccessful.

  Enabling and encouraging over-50s to stay in work—by encouraging and supporting employers to create better and more flexible working arrangements and improving occupational health. Reducing perverse incentives to leave work early, particularly regarding occupational pension schemes.

  Helping and encouraging displaced workers to re-enter work—by building on measures that reach out to such people (eg New Deal 50plus) and ensuring that neither the Employment Service/Benefits Agency assume that individuals cannot return to the labour market.

  Helping older people to make use of their skills and experience for the benefit of the wider community—by improving access to, motivation towards and availability of volunteering opportunities.

Outcomes

  4.1  A Cabinet-level Champion for Older People was appointed to take forward implementation of the report's conclusions. A government-wide strategy is being taken forward by an Inter-Ministerial Group. Progress to date and programme for future action were highlighted at a National Event for Older People on 17 May 2000. The DfEE have commissioned research to support evaluation of the Code of Practice. A number of changes to social security benefit rules have been introduced or are being considered. Improved training for ES staff has been introduced, and the revised Annual Performance Agreement for the Employment Service allows priority to be given to the New Deal 50+, which is receiving funding of £35 million over three years.

5.  RECOVERING THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME

Background

  7.1  Project commissioned in October 1999 to look at the financial aspects of crime and what role pursuing the money trail can play in the fight against crime. Report published in June 2000.

7.2  Key issues

  The UK has had extensive legal powers to confiscate criminal assets since 1986. But there are anomalies in the legal regime and significant deficiencies in the use of legislative provisions.

  In the last five years, confiscation orders have been raised in an average of only 20 per cent of drugs cases in which they were available, and in a mere 0.3 per cent of other crime cases.

  Pursuit and recovery of criminal assets in the UK is failing to deliver the intended attack on the proceeds of crime.

3.1  Key recommendations

  Adoption of a more strategic approach, with joined-up action from all relevant parts of the criminal justice system.

  Better trained and supported law enforcement officers able to pursue complex financial investigations.

  A simpler and more robust legal regime, including extended civil forfeiture powers.

  Greater efforts to stem the laundering of criminal assets.

  Full use of existing taxation powers.

  New structures and incentive mechanisms to underpin all of these changes.

Outcomes

  6.1  The Home Office has published a Regulatory Impact Assessment on the measures contained in the report which shows that if just 10 per cent of the estimated amounts are seized that they would still exceed the regulatory compliance cost. An interim Head of Asset Confiscation is being appointed and, together with a new cross-departmental committee, will be responsible for developing the strategy. Plans are in place to establish a National Confiscation Agency and Centre of Excellence next year.

  6.2  The EU is currently considering a Second Money Laundering Directive. This will extend the scope of money laundering regulations to include operators outside of the financial professions, including accountants and solicitors who form companies. It will also add to the impetus for police and customs to investigate money laundering cases.

  6.3  The Home Secretary will publish the first annual report on the progress of the Asset Confiscation Strategy next year.

7.  COUNTER REVOLUTION

Background

  8.1  Project commissioned in October 1999 to look at options for modernising the Post Office network. Report published in June 2000.

8.2  Key issues

  The Post Office network has been slow to modernise in the face of a rapidly changing business environment.

  The network is slowly shrinking as sub-postmasters retire or give up their businesses and replacements cannot be found.

  The network has become dependent on a few lines of business and needs to diversify the products it offers to respond effectively to changing needs and preferences.

  The most important line of business is over-the-counter payment of social security benefits. In May 1999, the Government announced that, from 2003, it plans to change the normal method of payment to automatic credit transfer (ACT) direct into bank accounts.

  The Post Office needs to consider how best to seize new business opportunities.

Key recommendations

  5.1  The recommendations in the report sought three main outcomes:

    —  a much more entrepreneurial and more efficiently run Post Office—that seizes opportunities to diversify into new lines of business including: a Universal Bank; e-commerce; and one-stop shops for Government information and transactions;

    —  maintenance of an extensive network of post offices in rural and urban deprived areas—by preventing avoidable closures in rural areas and investing in improved post offices in urban deprived areas;

    —  modernisation and re-invention of the Post Office network—through rationalisation of the existing network and creation of a smaller network of bigger, brighter post offices that are open longer hours and offering better services to customers.

Outcomes

  3.1  The report put in place a strategy backed by additional funding of £270 million to modernise and safeguard the Post Office network, with plans for new Universal Banking Services to be delivered across post office counters from 2003, a firm Government commitment to protect the rural network until 2006 and funding to modernise post offices in urban deprived areas.

  3.2  Plans for the modernisation of the urban network over the next 3-5 years are well underway. Innovative pilot schemes for post offices to act as Government General Practitioners or one stop shops for information and advice on government services have been given Government backing.

4.  ADOPTION

Background

  9.1  Project commissioned in February 2000 as a contribution to the Prime Minister's review of adoption policy. Report published in July 2000.

9.2  Key issues

  The role played by adoption has changed over the last three decades from one of providing homes for relinquished babies to providing permanent families for children of a range of ages—often with challenging backgrounds.

  Currently, many children wait in care for too long, with adoption often seen as a last resort. There are wide variations in local authority performance.

  There is widespread concern about the fairness, clarity and consistency of the process, and the time the whole procedure takes.

Key recommendations

  3.1  Recommendations aimed at increasing the number of adoptions of looked after children and put the needs of the child first, were made in the following areas:

    —  Attracting, recruiting and supporting more adopters—by stepping up recruitment activity, setting up a National Adoption Register and establishing new National Standards.

    —  Achieving a step change in the performance of Local Authorities—through establishment of a clear national policy for permanence and setting up a Taskforce to tackle poor performers.

    —  Making the court system work better—through review and reform of care proceedings, introduction of judicial case management of adoption proceedings, clarification of best practice and improved training.

    —  Changing the law—by aligning the Adoption Act with the Children Act to provide a consistent basis for planning for permanency and introducing new Placement Orders.

Outcomes

  4.1  Work is currently being taken forward by Department of Health on the establishment of:

    —  a National Adoption Register to co-ordinate those waiting to adopt with children needing new families;

    —  new National Standards which local authorities will need to follow, setting out clear timescales for making decisions about children and clear criteria for assessing adopters;

    —  an Adoption and Permanency Taskforce to spread best practice, tackle poor performance and help all local authorities to reach the standrds of the best;

    —  a rapid scrutiny of the backlog of children waiting to be placed with adoptive families.

  4.2  The report's other conclusions were open to public consultation until 6 October 2000. A White Paper has been published outlining the new approach.

5.  e.gov—Electronic Government Services for the twenty-first century

Background

  10.1  Project commissioned in November 1999 to set a strategic framework for the electronic delivery of Government services in line with the Government's target of having all services available on-line by 2005. Report published in September 2000.

10.2  Key issues

  Government services are largely delivered through a single, often paper-based, channel involving face-to-face interaction and frequently attuned to the needs of the service producer rather than the user.

  New technology provides the opportunity to transform the way that government services are designed and delivered.

  But it also provides a number of challenges that will have to be met in order for the full benefits to be realised.

  Government has set itself the aim of having all of its services available on-line by 2005.

4.1  Key recommendations

  Electronic service delivery needs to be driven by the use that citizens make of it—with better co-ordination of initiatives to ensure that citizens have the skills, information and equipment to interact electronically. There should also be measures to give people mediated access to electronic services where they want and need it. Government must also respond more effectively to citizen preferences and make investment decisions on the basis of service use.

  Electronic delivery of government services should be opened to the private and voluntary sectors—competition will improve service quality, stimulate innovation and improve value for money.

  New incentives, levers and institutional structures need to be put in place to make the transformation happen—including new funding and sharpened financial incentives to promote electronic service delivery and the creation of a government incubator to develop new service ideas.

  The Government must continue to implement its rolling programme of priority services—with a significant number of priority citizen services funded for full implementation within the current financial year.

Outcomes

  11.10  The Office of the e-Envoy has been restructured and expanded in line with the report's conclusions. The e-Minister and e-Envoy are producing monthly progress reports. The project has already helped to shape major spending decisions as part of the Knowledge Economy strand of the latest Spending Review. The Prime Minister has announced £1 billion of new funding for the next three years to fund implementation of the report's recommendations for putting government online.

  10.11  DfEE are working closely with partners in co-ordinating and delivering community based access initiatives. DCMS are actively working with other departments and the industry to promote rapid take-up of digital interactive TV

11.  RIGHTS OF EXCHANGE

Background

  11.1  Project commissioned in December 1999 to provide the UK Government with a policy framework for balancing social, health and environmental objectives with that of increasing trade liberalisation. Report published in September 2000.

11.2  Key issues

  An open and rules-based trading system brings great opportunities and benefits to both consumers and businesses.

  But trade liberalisation also presents challenges on the environment, conditions at work, human health and animal welfare.

  Consumers want more and clearer information about how and where products are made. And yet there is a danger that these issues may be used as a cloak for increased protectionism with negative impacts for all—and especially developing countries.

  There is a need for a more informed public debate on the issues and a clear framework for what Government can do to influence policies at an international level.

4.1  Key conclusions

  Opening international markets can be expected to benefit social, health and environmental standards over time by raising living standards—but only if supported by the right policies.

  Developed countries and international institutions need to do more to help poorer countries gain market access for their products and to implement supportive policies—unilateral trade restrictions will almost always be counter-productive.

  World trade rounds are not suitable as the main forum for negotiating non-trade issues.

  The role of the World Trade Organisation is poorly understood, but it provides an effective framework for trade.

  The trade rules need more clarity and transparency in several areas including production processes, product labelling and the precautionary principle; improvements are also needed to the dispute settlement processes.

  More multilateral agreements are needed to address social, health and environmental issues, with these agreements and trade rules mutually supporting each other.

  There is much that business and consumers can do to influence standards and government can play an enabling role in encouraging voluntary initiatives by business and better product labelling.

Outcomes

  12.13  The report is unique in addressing these issues from a government perspective and it has been widely influential within the WTO, European Commission, UNCTAD and other international bodies. The Government is using the report's conclusions to inform its thinking on each of the relevant policy issues as they come up for review and to achieve a more informed dialogue with stakeholders. It is encouraging other governments and institutions to take the report's conclusions into account in their own thinking.

8.  SUMMARY OF PROJECTS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY

Migration

  8.1  A joint research project with the Home Office looking at the social and economic impact of migration. To be published shortly.

Leadership in the public sector

  8.2  To consider the needs of public sector leadership in the future, identify and assess key existing development programmes, develop best practice to help public sector organisations to get good leaders into place, and identify practical ways of increasing diversity in public sector leadership. Concluding in early 2001. Sponsor Minister Estelle Morris.

Privacy and data-sharing

  8.3  To consider the broad range of issues involved in privacy and data-sharing, including public concerns on privacy and confidentiality; current government, private sector and international practices; structural and technological issues; and current legal parameters. Concluding in Spring 2001. Sponsor Minister Lord Falconer.

Health in developing countries

  8.4  To consider what incentives Government can employ to harness the efforts of the pharmaceutical industry to combat HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria in developing countries. Sponsor ministers Peter Hain and Stephen Timms.

Resource productivity

  8.5  To consider the contribution that the development and application of renewable energy technologies can make to economic growth and environmental protection within the context of more efficient use of natural resources and sustainable development. Sponsor minister Yvette Cooper.

Workforce development

  8.6  To examine the case that the UK under-invests in workplace learning and development, and to propose a strategy for tackling problems that are identified. Sponsor minister Lord Macdonald.

Modernising government loans

  8.7  To consider the principles of when to use loans rather than other forms of government intervention and what form these loans should take once a case for intervention has been made. Sponsor minister Andrew Smith.

Strategic challenges

  8.8  The unit is also following up work it carried out in 1999 to identify the key medium and long-term strategic challenges and opportunities facing Government.


 
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