Fate of COI design arms gives hope to outsiders

The future of the Central Office of Information’s two graphic design arms is in doubt under Government proposals to streamline the agency. But the changes may lead to more Government work for outside design groups.

The agency currently employs eight designers and is restricted to providing design work for the public sector.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Roger Freeman, the Government minister responsible for the COI, has proposed that the COI should be retained as a Next Steps Executive Agency to “concentrate on the procurement of services for customer departments, rather than the direct provision of services”.

It is “too early to say” what effect the proposed changes will have on the design arms, says a COI spokeswoman. A second set of consultants will be appointed in the next few weeks, to assess further the efficiency and value for money of the organisation, she adds. The results of their report will be revealed in the next few months.

In a statement given in November, Freeman recognised that “these changes will result in some reduction in the number of staff employed by COI, which is currently about 470”.

The COI’s advertising department is the first to feel Freeman’s changes. From 1 January Government departments were free to procure advertising directly from other industry agencies.

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