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Report on value will cut red tape

Moves to reduce bureaucracy in further education will be given a further boost when the Government's value-for-money watchdog reports to Parliament after the general election.

The National Audit Office delayed publication of its value-for-money study of colleges when the election was called, but FE Focus can reveal that the document expresses concern about the overlapping responsibilities of those who run the sector.

The report, which is not expected to be handed to Parliament until late May at the earliest, says clarification is needed of the role of college governors, who have been responsible for identifying local educational needs under powers awarded to them by the Department for Education and Skills when colleges broke away from local authority control in 1993.

But their responsibility for making sure those needs are being met is duplicated to some extent by local learning and skills councils, set up in 2001, says the NAO.

It is understood that the report will question the overlapping roles of governors and local LSC members - many of whom, like their college counterparts, are drawn from local businesses.

If the Conservatives win the election, the report will be used to support their election pledge to scrap the LSC, although the NAO does not call for this.

After the election, the Commons education select committee will decide whether to question witnesses in the light of the report, which will also be considered by Sir Andrew Foster, former comptroller of the Audit Commission, who is leading a review of bureaucracy in FE.

Sir Andrew has said that he regards excessive red tape as a sign of bad management but stressed that the improvements were needed in the DfES rather than in colleges, which find themselves having to make the best of the rules by which they are funded.

He said the DfES has yet to explain to the public how its relationsip with the LSC works in a way that people can understand.

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