Stuck in the slow lane

Think tank: Adam Smith Institute

Author(s): Tim Ambler

July 29, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute looks at reforming the Department for Transport.

This report proposes a number of reforms to improve the efficiency and value for money of the Department for Transport. This paper is part of the Adam Smith Institute’s “Reforming the Civil Service” series. The Department for Transport (DfT) has responsibility for a number of functions that are currently performed inefficiently and represent poor value for taxpayer money; DfT should be structured as an HQ dealing with policy, legislation and all matters too small to need a specialist Executive Agency; All other matters should be handled by Executive Agencies and no other public bodies should be required; Network Rail is in dire need of significant reform and lacks transparency—a headcount reduction of 20,000 staff should be possible; The Office for Rail and Road devotes much of its staff time and resources to matters that should be left to rail management, therefore it should be closed; The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) should be merged, with a consequent reduction in staff numbers of 50% (5,000); The two bodies duplicate each other in record-keeping and online updating can be left to garages and drivers; Further improvements to departmental efficiency can be realised by merging other DfT arm’s length bodies; Taken together, the recommendations in this report would produce a total headcount saving of nearly 30,000.