Page last updated at 13:55 GMT, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Public Accounts Committee

The use of data by Whitehall departments was questioned by the Public Accounts Committee during an evidence session on 30 November 2010.

Senior civil servants were in front of MPs explaining the publication of departmental business plans which various Whitehall departments have to produce to show how they are to manage spending cuts.

Ray Shostak, the Director of Public Services at the Treasury, told MPs that the business plans were about "moving powers from Whitehall to the heart of communities".

However Sir David Normington, the top civil servant at the Home Office, admitted they were not "the whole story", but concentrated on the "reform programme".

Labour's Stella Creasey and Conservative Matthew Hancock questioned the civil servants on how the data contained in the business plans was used by Whitehall.

Sir David said it was a "management tool" for assessing the delivery of coalition policies, whilst Kris Murrin from the Number 10 Implementation Unit said it could be used to show which policies were overdue.

The committee also raised the issue of the "transparency framework" which is due to give greater accountability on the work of the civil service.

Martin Donnelly from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said decisions on issues such as away days and using consultancies were now taken "with greater vigour".

The Spending Review was published by Chancellor George Osborne in October and outlines how the government is to make cuts to reduce public debt levels and cut borrowing.

Departments will have their budgets cut by 19% on average over the next four years.

Public accounts committee membership

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