The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) employs consultants only when the necessary skills are unavailable from permanent FCO staff. We apply a strict value for money test to all consultancy use in line with central Government guidelines.
The FCO spent £11.98 million on consultancy services between May and November 2010 (December 2010 data are not yet available). This was spent on practical projects to improve the FCO's global operations and provide better value for money for the taxpayer. It funded in particular the provision of the external technical expertise necessary to develop better IT systems and a more modern global estate. A significant proportion supported the Echo project, which is designed to deliver better and cheaper global IT services to the FCO and other Government Departments and save the taxpayer up to £90 million.