Chapter 7 – Finance
Opening of the College
305. The Scottish Prosecution College was opened in September 2007 by the Lord Advocate.
306. Figures obtained from Crown Office Finance Division in relation to Learning and Development Division for years 2006/07 to 2009/10 are as follows:
307. The above table shows that staffing costs increased over the four year period. This was expected given that additional posts were created in Learning and Development Division in response to the 2002 Management Review recommendations that the 'training unit should be strengthened' and 'backed by the allocation of sufficient resources'. As can be seen there has been an overall decrease in the centrally managed expenditure which takes account of costs associated with core training. Again this is as expected given that there that more courses are now delivered in-house therefore there is less need to hire training rooms and external trainers, etc.
308. An exercise was carried out by Finance Division in 2009 which showed cost efficiencies in relation to hire of rooms/accommodation, external speakers, food and travel and subsistence since the opening of the College. Figures supplied showed that from 2006/07 to 2008/09 there was a 78% reduction (£432,659.47 to £96,526.18) in total costs for these particular expenses although within this there was an increase in travel and subsistence as would be expected when the College was located in one city as noted in responses to our staff survey:
- "However….. claims from Aberdeen will be high………….. would cost the Department £300 per person - a lot of money when there are say 25 Deputes all needing trained and one trainer doing the same course over and over centrally …….." (Q28, 55)
309. The location of the College is discussed later in the report at Chapter 8.
310. The exercise further showed, based on these particular costs, a decrease in the cost of training per head 22 from £495 in 2006/07 to £81 in 2008/09. Using the same formula the Training Manager calculated the costs for 2009/10 to be further reduced to £61 per head.
311. The 2009 CIPD annual survey reported that in the public sector the median training spend per employee was £127. This report does not specify costs included in the calculation therefore direct comparisons could not be made.
312. The Head of Learning and Development has overall responsibility for the Learning and Development Division financial budget. Day to day management of the budget, including setting and monitoring the budget is delegated to the Learning and Development Division Manager.
313. The Learning and Development Division budget accounts for just over 1% of total cost of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service budget.
314. The financial budget is created in accordance with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service business planning process and it consists of staffing, office and centrally managed costs. Office costs consist of stationery, utilities, Learning and Development staff travel and subsistence, practising certificates, etc. Centrally managed costs consist of estimates for delivery of core courses including anticipated travel and subsistence related to this. We were advised that abstraction costs are not included given that adequate notice should be given for managers to make alternative arrangements and schedule work. No issues were raised relating to this in our questionnaires/interviews (although it was noted in responses to our Area questionnaire mention was made of the time factor of staff travelling to Glasgow to attend courses 23).
315. Other initiatives accounted for in the centrally managed estimate include amongst others:
- Qualifications policy - financial support is available to staff for further education if they can evidence that achieving the qualification will meet Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service business needs
- LLB Sponsorship - funding for two members of staff
- Forensic Medicine Science - agreements are in place with Glasgow and Edinburgh University for certain free places and to fund a certain number
- External training eg Microsoft, Oracle, etc
- Conferences and seminars
- Subscriptions to professional bodies
316. Resources are allocated according to learning and development priorities identified through creation of the training calendar. It is noted that the 2010/11 budget stipulated that no provision was made for new anticipated projects such as the Phoenix project, Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, etc as these costs were unknown at the time. It is expected that additional funds may be sought for such and that this will be approved at senior management level within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as a business case.
317. The Learning and Development Division Manager has access to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service budget manual folder which is updated monthly by Finance Division. From this he checks forecasts and expenditure against records held in Learning and Development Division. Any discrepancies or unusual expenditure is followed up and discussed with the Head of Learning and Development as the budget holder and with Finance Division. The Director of HR also receives monthly reports for monitoring purposes.
318. Apart from the rejection of additional administrative assistance none of the staff felt that there were any other financial constraints when it came to delivering an effective learning and development service.
319. NOTE: Capital expenditure is managed by Estates Division and has not been included here.
320. For new projects, costs of training are identified as part of programme development. For courses already in existence historical data is used to identify costs as described above.
321. The Learning and Development Evaluation Strategy has a specific objective to:
- Provide, where, possible, meaningful information for the return on investment calculations.
322. We found no evidence of any measurement of costs against benefits for courses at present. There is a section in the 'Workstream Progression Plans' for costs/benefits to be detailed, however, this section is not currently used. We have been advised that it is Learning and Development Division's intention to do this in the future.
323. It is widely accepted that it is much easier to measure costs than benefits. Calculating costs would involve identifying 'hard' numerical data such as actual expenditure relating to speakers, accommodation, materials, etc. Measuring benefits involves identifying 'soft' qualitative data such as increase in performance, confidence, motivation, etc. (Such information is akin to level 4 evaluation, which as we have said earlier 24, does not take place) Measurements would have to be taken before, during and after the training.
Recommendation - That to address the objective of 'providing …. information for the return on investment calculations' Learning and Development Division consider introducing a method of measuring costs against benefits especially for courses that can be specifically linked to changes in performance.
324. We noted that Learning and Development staff are very aware of the need to obtain value for money especially in the current financial climate. Some of the examples cited to us include:
- Trainers will visit offices rather than many staff travelling to Glasgow
- Delivery of in-house training rather than paying for external speakers
- Consideration of paying a day rate for training providers rather than sending many staff on an external course
- Tendering exercises
- Introduction of e-learning for certain courses
- Sourcing best price from suppliers
- Sourcing cheaper travel
325. A decision was taken to no longer supply lunch to delegates attending courses at the Scottish Prosecution College as it was felt that to do so was becoming expensive. Staff are advised to claim the daily subsistence rate in accordance with travel and subsistence guidelines. As part of our staff survey we found that many staff do not bother claiming subsistence. Example responses are as follows:
- "Travel warrant obtained and did not apply for lunch subsistence." (Q28, 4)
- "I don't claim my attitude is that it would cost me to come to work and buy lunch." (Q28, 9)
- "I did not make a claim, like the majority of my colleagues; I feel it is too much hassle to go through the claim process and obtain receipts for lunch." (Q28, 18)
- "However policy of L & D no longer providing lunches doesn't appear to apply to all courses. On same day that we attended Domestic Abuse course there was a course running involving senior COPFS managers where lunch was provided." (Q28, 44)
- "I did comment on my evaluation that it was disappointing that lunch was not provided. At other training event that I have attended lunch has been provided and participant can mingle and discuss aspects. The decision to withdraw lunch from the training event means that lunch is quite a disjointed affair and I think this is not appropriate in a large organisation like Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service." (Q27, 25)
326. It was noted that staff were aware that lunch was being provided for some courses and not others. We were advised that from the beginning of June 2010 lunch was no longer provided by Learning and Development Division for any course although they would order lunch for Senior/Area management seminars etc at a cost to the Area or Group concerned.
327. Learning and Development Division were aware and accepted that by not providing lunch there was a loss of flexibility in the timing of lunch breaks.
328. We reviewed documents relating to three courses where tendering exercises were carried out. Although not all background details were provided it was clear that three tenders had been received for two of the courses (Project Management and Diversity) in accordance with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Finance Manual and Scottish Government Procurement guidance. Only two tenders had been received for the 'Mentoring' programme and a review of the documents showed differing specifications, one relating to design only with the other relating to design and implementation making comparison difficult.
Recommendation - That all procurement exercises within Learning and Development Division are carried out in accordance with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Finance Manual and Scottish Government Procurement guidance particularly in the current financial climate.
329. The Office Manager has responsible for authorising accommodation bookings and monitoring expenditure in relation to this. Similarly all travel and subsistence claims relating to events are authorised by Learning and Development Division after a check has been made that the person attended. He is also responsible for the Government Procurement Card and is aware of transaction and monthly limits.
330. Likewise, staff within Learning and Development Division are aware of agreed delegated limits of expenditure in accordance with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Finance Manual.
331. The Learning and Development Division was subject to an internal audit review in year 2008/09. Comment was made on procurement process and transactions were reviewed.
332. External agencies occasionally attend training provided by Learning and Development Division. They are not charged for their attendance given that there is collaborative working allowing Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff to attend their course if spaces are available, for example, the Head of Learning and Development attended the 'Women's Leadership Development Programme' at Tulliallan. Another example is 'People, Change and Innovation' run by Scottish Government. We believe that this encourages good partnership working and this is further discussed in Chapter 10.
333. Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Areas have authority to spend up to £200 per head on courses such as Word, Excel, etc. In addition Areas fund their own training days. This expenditure is not monitored by Learning and Development although it is expected (and budgeted for) that if a number of staff from one Area require such training then Learning and Development Division will arrange and pay for this. The remit of this inspection concentrates on the Learning and Development function therefore these costs were not explored further.
334. Approximately 1% of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service budget is allocated to the Learning and Development Division. As a result of opening of the College facility in 2007 there has been an overall increase in costs over the years as would be expected given the injection of additional resources in order to strengthen the training function as recommended in the 2002 Management Review.
335. Learning and Development staff are mindful of the need to obtain value for money and to look for cost efficiencies. This is particularly important given the economic challenges the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service faces today. Again given the current financial climate we make a suggestion that a system is introduced to measure the benefits against costs of training.
336. We consider that sound assumptions are made in the creation of the learning and development budget, that there is good control of the budget process and monitoring of expenditure. This was also confirmed in the Scottish Government internal audit report 2009.