BIS to review SFA and role of their Chief Executive

Transparency and accountability will be the joint focus of a review launched this week into the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

But while its aim is defined, the mechanisms of the review are unclear, with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the SFA both tight-lipped when questioned by FE Week.

Also unknown is how long it will take, with its outcome due to be revealed “in due course”.

However, what is known is its reasoning, as it comes in line with the Cabinet Office Public Bodies Review Programme – a commitment to undertake a regular evaluation of key delivery bodies, explained a BIS spokesperson.

“It is a largely technical exercise, aimed at ensuring we have arrangements in place which will work effectively for all concerned and maximise delivery of the further education and skills agenda,” the spokesperson added.

Initial announcement of the review was made by John Hayes MP, minister of state for further education, skills and lifelong learning.

He said: “I would like to inform parliament the government is announcing a review of the status of the chief executive of Skills Funding and the SFA – the body which supports him in carrying out his statutory duties.

“The review is consistent with the Cabinet Office Public Bodies Review Programme, and reflects the requirement…to undertake a regular review of key delivery bodies, and the Government’s ongoing commitment to radically increase the transparency and accountability of all public services.”

The minister also told MPs that he would be seeking consultation from sector as a whole as part of the review.

He added: “I will be writing today to the further education and skills sector and to key stakeholders more widely about the review; and can confirm both the Skills Funding Agency and wider stakeholders will be fully engaged in the review process, whilst meeting the core principles set by Cabinet Office of ensuring that any wider consultation is proportionate and provides clear value for money.”

He concluded by saying that the review would build on the strength of the further education system.

“It is vital that we have the right structures in place to tackle the very real challenges that lie ahead; and this review reflects the Government’s ongoing commitment to building on the strength of the further education system, whilst ensuring rigorous accountability structures are in place,” he said.