Press release

Government publishes response to COI review

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The reform of the organisation of government communications has been announced today by Francis Maude.

23 June 2011

The reform of the organisation of government communications has been announced today by Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

The changes, which will lead to the closure of the Central Office of Information (COI), will further improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government communications.

They follow the introduction of spending controls on advertising and marketing spend in June last year, which has led to a 68% reduction in external spend through COI from £532m in 2009/10 to an estimated £168m in 2010/11. Government departments have reduced their number of in-house communications staff by around a quarter, and their budgets by half. 

The reforms are designed to consolidate those reductions, while ensuring that the remaining spend and activity on advertising and marketing is better coordinated and executed.  The government remains committed to continuing to support essential communications campaigns, such as health and recruitment to the armed services.

The changes will: 

  • strengthen central coordination, prioritisation and strategic planning of communications across government
  • put in place a new governance structure to increase accountability and transparency and to drive collective responsibility. This will include the appointment of an Executive Director, and the establishment of a Communications Delivery Board
  • create a specialist communications procurement unit under the leadership of the Government Procurement
  • enable government to explore how it can best capitalise on the capability which exists in communications across government, through a programme of reviews
  • explore the development of a shared communications delivery pool for certain specialist services; and for a small number of specialist marketing hubs.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

This government has slashed unnecessary spending on communications. These important and significant changes to government communications structures are designed to reflect this and to save more money by cutting bureaucracy and reducing duplication.

“This does not mean the end of vital and cost effective marketing campaigns - such as those campaigns that save people’s lives. However, it does mean that communications spending in the future will never again get out of hand and instead will be more transparent, better coordinated and less bureaucratic.

These proposals constitute the government’s response to the former Permanent Secretary for Government Communication’s Review of Government Direct Communication and the Role of COI which was published in March 2011.