1.1 The Scottish Government is committed to improving the quality of public services and the productivity of the public sector in Scotland by reducing waste and duplication. The Government believes that all public bodies, even those that are already working in an efficient way, can work more efficiently still.
1.2 We have identified fifteen National Outcomes that describe what the Government wants to achieve over the next ten years. They are designed to sharpen the focus of government, enable our priorities to be clearly understood and provide a clear structure for delivery of the Purpose.
1.3 National Outcome 15: Our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs is underpinned by a number of National Indicators, including the need to improve public sector efficiency through the generation of 2% cash releasing efficiency savings per annum. The 2008-11 Efficient Government Programme forms the key component in delivering that National Indicator.
1.4 By operating more efficiently, public bodies can release resources which can be recycled into supporting public services. This is particularly important during the current economic climate, where increased efficiency can provide a means of offsetting cuts and protecting jobs and services.
1.5 Major initiatives such as the Government's Simplification Programme are expected to see public bodies contribute significant efficiency gains.
1.6 Our target of increasing 2% cash-releasing efficiency savings, measured against the 2007-08 DEL baseline, aims to deliver efficiency gains of at least 2% (£534.4m) in 2008-09, 4% (£1,068.8m) in 2009-10 and 6% (£1,603.2m) in 2010-11.
1.7 This builds upon the previous efficiency programme that delivered over £1,739m savings (£1,316.3m cash and £423.4m time) in 2007-08 and while only cash savings count toward targets in the 2008-11 programme, time-releasing savings are also encouraged.
1.8 While it is recognised that efficiencies may be delivered through a range of measures, such as improvements in technology, streamlining processes, or workforce reform, Scottish Ministers continue to recognise the key role of Shared Services, Asset Management and Procurement and, for the 2008-09 outturn, portfolios have been asked to identify the levels of savings that have been delivered by each of these workstreams.
1.9 Lessons learned in the previous programme centred on the need for benchmarking and good management information and the Efficiency and Transformational Government Division continues to work on this. Procedural and technical lessons were incorporated in the Efficiency Guidance, published at the start of the 2008-11 programme.