Empty Desks, Complex Job Titles Among BOE's Cost Challenges

(Bloomberg) -- The Bank of England needs to become more cost conscious, with empty desks and a surplus of complex job titles identified as areas of potential waste, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

The report focused on the potential to reduce spending at the BOE’s Central Services division -- which is responsible for human resources, technology, property, procurement, security and financial management. While it said the central bank was improving, it found building operation costs are around 35 percent higher than in other U.K. governing bodies. The money spent on technology support to staff was 34 percent more.

Other areas identified by the NAO were:

  • 800 allocated but unoccupied desks a day at the BOE’s Threadneedle Street headquarters.
  • More than 700 job titles, creating a complex structure that adds to costs
  • 200 purchases above 25,000 pounds ($32,000) that were made without staff consulting the central procurement team -- contrary to policy -- which could have saved up to 200,000 pounds.

The BOE estimates that current initiatives could sustainably reduce its operating costs by 15 million pounds a year from 2021-22, the report said. The NAO scrutinizes public spending for Parliament and is separate from government.

In a statement, the three-century old central bank said it welcomed the findings and had managed to keep its budget flat this year, despite the new demands resulting from Brexit. Governor Mark Carney has previously stressed that NAO reports shouldn’t compromise the independence of the BOE.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.