Review into COI future to conclude in January

The future of the Central Office of Information remains in doubt after the Cabinet Office announced a formal review into the Government’s marketing services provider.

Mark Lund
Mark Lund

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has commissioned Matt Tee, the permanent secretary for government communications, to review the COI’s “role, funding, organisational status, governance; and the most effective organisation of cross-departmental coordination and leadership on strategic marketing and communication issues.”

Tee will work with COI chief executive Mark Lund on the review, which will also cover “the coordination of cross-department marketing and communications,” and report back to Maude with recommendations in January.

The news again raises questions over the future nature and role of the COI. A spokesman for the Cabinet Office says it is “too early to pre-judge” the outcome of the review when asked if it could lead to the end of the COI.

The COI is already being pared down following the coalition Government’s freeze on all but “essential” marketing spend.

The Office has axed 287 staff, about 40% of its workforce, “to reflect the reduced volume of work”.

Tee’s review is part of the Cabinet Office’s wider assessment of the future of Government marcomms, due to conclude next March. Options being considered also include a “US-style” Ad Council and a payment by results model.

Maude says in a statement: “This Government has worked hard to cut down on unsustainably high spending on communications. The next step is to ensure that COI is well placed to respond to the needs of the future.”

Tee is to leave the Cabinet Office in March, the statement adds, “having seen through this review and the transition to new arrangements”.

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