Some good news on the quango front, this week. It turns out GOD is supportive of our drive to reduce their wasteful spending!
According to this month's Prospect magazine, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell (known in Whitehall as GOD thanks to his fortuitous intials) has forbidden all quangos from going to the three main political party conferences.
This is an excellent development. As we revealed in our report Having a ball at the Party Conferences, the Regional Development Agencies alone spent £285,000 at last year's conferences. This huge bill, which is undoubtedly replicated at numerous other quangos, is run up by a hectic campaign of costly stalls, champagne receptions and other events.
This spending is utterly unjustified. These quangos are given taxpayers' money to deliver various services or carry out functions - it is wrong for them to use that cash to lobby politicians for even more money.
A really encouraging sign is that GOD's decision seems to have been spurred directly by our research and campaigning on the topic. Our research into the issue came out on 29th December 2008, and according to Prospect's report Sir Gus sent out his new order in January - it is pretty clear that his decision was inspired by the pressure we applied on the issue.
This is a victory that brings a sizeable financial saving for taxpayers, and restricts the dubious practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying. It also serves as a great example of how research using Freedom of Information, combined with strong media coverage of the findings, can produce concrete policy change at the highest level.