Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told MSPs that police reorganisation would save £130m a year in a statement on police and fire services reform on 8 September 2011.
Mr MacAskill stressed there would be no political interference in the new service and launched a consultation paper on the reforms.
He also promised that new single police and fire services will not be heavily centralised and that the new arrangements would cut costs without cutting local links.
The move will see Scotland's current eight police forces and fire and rescue services merged into one national body.
The justice secretary said the changes would be "protecting what we value the most in keeping Scotland safe and strong".
He also told the chamber the current structures for the police and fire services "date from 1975 before the internet and mobile phones".
Mr MacAskill added: "change is always a tough call but this is a journey that all of Scotland is on".