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MoJ halves consultancy spending

Don't need no good advice

The Ministry of Justice reduced its consultancy spending from £20.7m in 2007-08 to £10.5m in 2008-09, despite the failure of other departments to meet government cost-cutting targets.

According to a parliamentary written answer from Lord Bach, consultancy and technology company Accenture suffered from a particularly big fall. It said that the majority of payments related to its development of the electronic case management system Libra for the department.

The MoJ, created in 2007, paid Accenture £15.5m in 2007-08 for its services. This fell to £3.9m in 2008-09, according to a parliamentary written answer published on 8 March 2010.

Lord Bach told Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Northover that Libra has improved the exchange of information between the courts and criminal justice organisations such the police, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Office of Criminal Justice Reform. "This has led to a reduction in duplication of work and has enhanced services to court users, improving scheduling and monitoring of cases," he added in the written answer.

The government introduced plans to cut consultancy expenditure across all departments by around 50 per cent after a 2006 National Audit Office report found that Whitehall was spending around £1.8bn a year on consultants.

A number of government departments have failed to cut spending, with at least seven increasing their expenditure on consultants during 2008-09. These departments include Work and Pensions, the Home Office, Communities and Local Government and Transport.

Chris Pennell, senior analyst at Kable, said: "The drastic cut in consultancy expenditure is as a direct result of firstly, the ending of the department's reorganisation programme – it has finished the change programme which aimed to unify the individual parts combined to form the MoJ, including aligning the disparate ICT elements. The MoJ is now embarking on the procurement phase of the programme to consolidate and standardise the ICT infrastructure.

"Secondly, the MoJ has made commitments to the overall drive to reduce by 50% total expenditure on consultancy services across the public sector. Although the government introduced targets to cut spending on consultancy services, a number of departments will struggle and it's unclear how these cuts are supposed to happen or where they are going to come from."

In another parliamentary written answer to Baroness Northover, the Department for International Development revealed that its consultancy expenditure had increased by nearly £2m. In 2007-08 it spent £8.9m on consultants, with the figure rising to £10.8m in 2008-09

This article was originally published at Kable.

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