1.1 Service Delivery Agreements (SDAs) for 2001-2004 are being published today by every government department. For the major departments the SDA underpins the Public Service Agreement (PSA) published in July (Public Service Agreements 2001-2004) and provides the detail on how targets will be delivered, as well as how government will modernise and reform itself to help deliver the targets. For smaller departments, who do not have a PSA, the SDA sets out the outcomes they will deliver and how they will deliver them.
1.2 SDAs provide a picture of what each department is doing over the next three years to improve their efficiency and their performance through the use of management tools like the European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model, benchmarking across different operating units, focusing on consumers of services and improving access to services, ensuring policies and services respond to the needs of all groups in society, putting services on-line and improving policy-making.
1.3 The SDAs incorporate the key elements of the plans which government departments are putting in place to deliver the commitments in the Modernising Government White Paper and plans to engage in Civil Service Reform.
Cross-departmental reviews were an important feature of the 2000 Spending
Review and the SDAs show how their conclusions are being put into action.
One of the cross-departmental reviews, Sure Start, is publishing its
own SDA, for other reviews the plans in place are reflected in the SDAs
of the departments jointly responsible for their delivery.
1.5 Parliament and the public will be given regular information in departmental reports on progress against plans set out in the SDA. In addition the Government is preparing to provide more regular progress reports on PSA target delivery on the internet. The Government will monitor progress and take action where there is a risk that performance is off track. A Cabinet Committee chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will meet regularly with Ministers accountable for delivery to assess progress and recommend action.
1.6 To enable rigorous monitoring and to further improve transparency, Technical Notes will be available publicly later this year to provide the precise technical specification of each PSA target.
1.7 Across government initiatives are in place to help departments improve their performance. In particular the Public Services Productivity Panel, a team of top private and public sector change management experts, is helping departments and agencies find fresh, practical ways to improve the performance and delivery of public services. The Public Sector Benchmarking Service, a new service being developed by the Cabinet Office and Her Majestys Customs and Excise, will help to deliver the Governments commitments by providing departments with access to information on best practice and partners to benchmark their performance against practical assistance to benefit from the experience of others.