Press release

Whitehall shake-up in drive for efficiency

The Office of Government Commerce and the public sector procurement agency Buying Solutions will form part of the Efficiency and Reform Group.

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

Responsibility for the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and the public sector procurement agency, Buying Solutions, will move to the Cabinet Office where they will form part of the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), the Prime Minister announced today.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said the move will bring together in one place all the cross-government operational functions, including procurement, project management, IT and civil service workforce and reform functions.

The Efficiency and Reform Group will have a strong mandate at the centre of government to ensure departments work together to quickly tackle waste and improve accountability across all these areas.  The Group’s work is overseen by an Efficiency Board, co-chaired by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

In a further boost for the work of the Efficiency and Reform Group, Mr Maude has announced that three senior business leaders, who have all worked in Whitehall, will bring their years of experience to the Efficiency Board. They are:

  • Sir Peter Gershon, Chairman of Tate & Lyle, former government efficiency adviser and first chief executive of the OGC;
  • Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Executive Director, Tesco PLC; formerly a senior career civil servant; and
  • Dr Martin Read, Non-Executive Director of Invensys, Aegis and Lloyd’s of London.

Mr Maude said that today’s announcements will inject pace and energy into the critical work of the Efficiency and Reform Group:

We want a slim but strong centre that can drive down the cost of government, so protecting as best we can the crucial front line services on which our citizens depend.

The changes I am announcing today will bring together our operational capability to form a single strong but streamlined group to drive efficiency across Government. By taking this really tough stance on inefficiency and waste, we can tackle Britain’s massive budget deficit and bring order back to the country’s finances, whilst protecting vital frontline services.

Our new board members will be critical in making this happen.  Sir Peter Gershon, Lucy Neville-Rolfe and Martin Read have varied business expertise combined with deep understanding of the unique challenges of government.  They’ll be energetic and challenging, and I’m grateful that they have stepped up to offer their valuable service to the country.

Sir Peter Gershon, who will lead on looking at procurement issues, said:

Whilst tackling the budget deficit is a challenge, I am convinced that by bringing experts together and harnessing the talents of the public sector we can start to make improvements immediately. We will need to be creative and innovative in order to make a real difference and look at new ways of working.

Dr Martin Read, a senior businessman who led the 2008 to 2009 government review on back office operations and IT across the public sector, said:

The long term health of the UK economy is critically dependent on securing value for money across the public sector.  The Efficiency and Reform Group has a crucial role to play in ensuring that cost reduction becomes a fundamental management objective in the public sector and I look forward to supporting this initiative.

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who will be looking at workforce issues, said:

In these challenging economic times, greater efficiency and effectiveness in government can play a large part in helping to make Britain a better and a fairer place to live and work. I am delighted to lend my experience to this important work.

In a further example of the new business-like approach to government, today the Cabinet Office became the first government department to publish its structural reform plan, setting out its new priorities, with implementation milestones clearly exposed for public scrutiny. Other departments will publish their plans in due course.

Notes to editors

  1. Property functions in the Office of Government Commerce and the Shareholder Executive will combine into a single unit responsible for property efficiency and will be based in the Shareholder Executive within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It will report jointly to the Minister for the Cabinet Office and to the Chief Secretary as part of the Efficiency and Reform Group.
  2. The government has committed to make immediate savings of £6.2 billion. For further details on the government’s efficiency and reform drive please visit HM Treasury.
  3. The Efficiency and Reform Board, is chaired jointly by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister for the Cabinet Office. For further details please see
  4. The Cabinet Office Structural Reform plan sets out the priorities for the department which are: Civil Service Reform, Quango Reduction, Information and Communications (ICT) Strategy, Driving Efficiency in Government Operations, Transparency and Support the building of the Big Society. Download the Structural Reform Plan, available in PDF and Powerpoint.
  5. For further details on the Office of Government Commerce, please see [external website].
  6. Buying Solutions helps government departments and public sector bodies get value for money through the procurement and supply of goods and services. For further details please see
  7. For Cabinet Office press office contact details, visit the press office page.
Published 15 June 2010