Letter:Quality of service

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Sir: Nicholas Timmins reports (Significant Shorts, 1 August) the Government's Efficiency Unit's findings that the cost of Competing for Quality (CFQ) reviews of civil service functions with an annual value of under pounds 250,000 (28 per cent of all reviews) outweighed any savings they may have generated.

In total, just under half of all tendering exercises under the CFQ banner cost as much, if not more, than the Government alleges they have saved.

The clearest message to have come from this report is the damaging effect which market testing and contracting out have had on the civil service. Before the Competing for Quality initiative, 83 per cent of departments were happy with the quality of service provided. Today, the report finds that a third of them now believe that service has deteriorated; 97 per cent of civil servants find the CFQ programme demotivating; and the cost associated with the programme, on expenses such as external consultants and contract management, is over pounds 90m per year.

This report largely confirms the arguments of the Civil and Public Services Association that the Competing for Quality initiative has had little to do with improving the civil service and much to do with this government's ideological distaste for anything associated with the public sector.


General Secretary, Civil and Public Services Association

London SW11