Friday, December 09, 2005

Tractor Production Hits Another High

Excellent news comrades! Production of tractors by OGC (the Office Of Government Commerce) has hit another record. Financial Secretary to the Treasury John Healey reports that Central Government exceeded its target for value for money (VFM) gains in 2004-05, with an heroic total of £2.3 bn.

As you may recall, VFM is Brown's programme of savings to be made by government departments and their agencies getting better deals on goods and services they buy, either via direct negotiation with suppliers or joint procurement. Commissar Healey says:

"This is good news for the tax payer as government departments meet, and exceed the £3 billion value for money targets. It is an excellent achievement."

Which is a rather striking contrast to what the Public Accounts Committee said earlier this week. Their worrisome report on Value For Money In Public Services left the distinct impression that the OGC still has much to do.

And indeed, when you try to probe the detail behind the claimed VFM gains, all you find are...well, the usual tractor production statistics- ie no detail at all, other than a series of totals for individual departments.

And the so-called "savings" are all in funny money. VFM gains are defined not in terms of something we can all understand- such as simple hard cash- but as "the optimum combination of whole life costs and quality to meet the customer's requirements".

Which could mean pretty well anything. Particularly when the departments themselves seem to be judge and jury of what the gains actually are.

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