Select Committee on Treasury Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Responses by Departments on use made of Departmental Reports British Trade International

  Thank you for letter of 10 January about the Departmental Reports Review.

  British Trade International is a new organisation-established only in 1999—bringing together the trade and investment work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Trade and Industry, and working in close partnership with a range of other organisations. We have therefore spent the last 2½ years going through a major process of change and reorganisation. We produced our first Departmental Report last year.

  For our organisation the Report may have rather a different purpose and focus than for more established departments. As well as its principal purpose of informing Parliament, the Report has been useful at this particular stage in our development in the process of educating staff at home and overseas about the new organisation and of our plans and achievements. Most of the copies taken by us were for this purpose, though, as our internal communications mechanisms develop and the new organisation stabilises, the Report's importance in this respect is likely to reduce, and with it the number of copies we take. However, although our target audience is internal, it is also a useful document for visiting dignitaries and overseas organisations that we deal with.

25 January 2002

Cabinet Office

  Thank you for your letter of 10 January 2002.

  The Cabinet Office's 2001 annual Departmental Report, in addition to covering Cabinet Office activities, also incorporated the reports of a collection of other organisations:

    —  Central Office of Information;

    —  Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service;

    —  Commissioner for England;

    —  Privy Council Office;

    —  House of Lords;

    —  House of Commons;

    —  National Audit Office; and

    —  Electoral Commission.

  Internally the report is distributed to our Ministers and Heads of Units and is often used as an induction aid to introduce the Cabinet Office and its aims, objectives and activities.

  The general public and other public service colleagues can access the report via the Cabinet Office website. Unfortunately the number of times the website has been accessed is not currently available.

  The report is also held in the House of Commons Library and several parliamentary questions have been asked in relation to its contents.

31 January 2002

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

  You requested an analysis of the distribution of our Departmental Report for 2001. A total of 1,300 were produced and distributed as follows:

All members of DCMS staff
Chairs and Chief Executives of DCMS Sponsored Bodies
Members of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and Opposition Spokespersons
Offices of the Houses of Parliament
Members of the Press
Other external contacts
Ad hoc requests and reserve stock

  I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you need any further information.

Ministry of Defence

  I refer to your letter of 10 January concerning Departmental Reports.

  As you know, the Ministry of Defence, unlike most other Government Departments, reports its future spending plans and its past performance to Parliament via two separate documents:

    —  MoD's Expenditure Plans and Main Estimates—a forward-looking document published in the spring, although from this year the Estimates will be published separately by the Treasury.

    —  MoD Performance Report—the Secretary of State for Defence's account of performance during the previous financial year. This Report is published in the autumn, enabling it to paint a complete picture of Defence performance for the preceding year.

  The principal audience of both documents is the House of Commons Defence Committee, whose inquiry into the MoD's Annual Reporting Cycle is centred on the Departmental Reports. As is customary, copies of the Reports are also sent to all members of the Cabinet, and to the Opposition and Liberal Democrat Defence and Treasury spokespersons.

  As the MoD's primary account of Defence performance and activity, the Performance Report has a wide range of external uses. It is a major component of the UK's annual Defence Planning Return to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and is made available to foreign officials and academics visiting the MoD. It is also provided to the regional government offices throughout the UK, as part of the MoD's ongoing liaison activities. Both Reports are frequently used to answer queries from journalists, defence correspondents and members of the public, although in many cases the enquirer is directed to the MoD's external website (, where the full Reports are available.

  The Departmental Reports are also important elements of the MoD's internal communications strategy. Immediately following publication, copies of both Reports are sent to the heads of every major division in the Department (including those based overseas), to all Defence Agency chief executives, and to the major MoD colleges and libraries. The full Report is also accessible via the MoD's Internet.

  A more detailed breakdown of the uses to which the 2001 Departmental Reports have been put is at Annex A.

  I hope this is helpful and am sorry for missing your deadline.

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