FCO braced for criticism on Iraq record-keeping

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials believe the department will be criticised by Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the Iraq War over the poor state of its record-keeping, according to its 2012-13 departmental improvement plan published last month.

By Joshua.Chambers

01 Jul 2013

“The gaps in our record keeping are becoming apparent, causing reputational and financial risk for the FCO. We are likely to attract criticism in the Chilcott [sic] Inquiry report,” the plan says. It adds that 89% of staff are not using its electronic registry system, 55% are unaware of the need to register corporate records, and 70% have not been trained in how to use its electronic registry system. The plan sets a target of increasing the number of documents registered on the FCO’s electronic system by 25% this year.

Three other departments have also just published internal assessments of their 2012-13 strengths, weaknesses, and plans for improvement: the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG); the Department for International Development (DfID); and HMRC.

DCLG notes that it was the best-performing department for completing its business plan objectives, but says that more must be done to improve its leadership and management of change. The review sets out plans to share its legal, internal audit, procurement and estates functions, and develop a new commercial model for its online Planning Portal by this summer.

DfID says that it must improve both its financial capability and project management, although it notes that “progress has been made.” Meanwhile, HMRC’s plan says 2012-13 was its strongest year to date in terms of total tax revenues, but points to low staff morale and difficulties in talent management at senior grades.

The plans replace capability reviews, and have been conducted as a pilot. One department, the Cabinet Office, is still due to publish its plan, and will do so soon.

Last year’s Civil Service Reform Plan said that, following the pilot, the improvement plans will be conducted by all departments on a yearly basis.

The improvement plans differ from capability reviews because they do not contain the red, amber, green (RAG) ratings – used previously in capability reviews and currently in major project reviews – which allow for comparisons across departments. The plans are managed by departmental boards, and assess progress against departmental business plan objectives.

Read the most recent articles written by Joshua.Chambers - Interview: Alison Munro

Share this page