Archives for January 2001

THE LEARNING ORGANISATION – DEVELOPING DEMOCRACY AT WORK

Book News, PublicNet: 31 January, 2001

Bob GarrattThis is a revised edition of a book published in 1986 that was one of the first to try to put learning ideas at the top of the management agenda. The author is a leading authority on the subject.

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MORE COUNCIL STAFF TO TAKE COMPUTER DRIVING TEST

Headlines, PublicNet: 31 January, 2001

Staff in about one third of councils in the UK will be able to take a computer driving test before the end of the year. The European Computer Driving Licence is the first pan-European Union qualification in personal computing skills. Originating in Scandinavia and launched in the UK in 1998, it is designed specifically for those who wish to gain a basic qualification in computing to help them with their current job,or to help them grow their skills and enhance career prospects.A survey of councils by the Society of Information Technology Management revealed that one of the major challenges to the successful implementation of e-government is lack of proper training for professional and clerical staff using the new computer technology. It also revealed that some councils already make use of the European Computer Driving Licence and others plan to do so.

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OPEN GOVERNMENT CULTURE CHANGE STARTS TODAY

Headlines, PublicNet: 31 January, 2001

The Freedom of Information Act, which came into effect today, will radically alter the relationship between those who provide public services and the public at large. The Act applies to all public bodies including Government departments, local authorities, NHS bodies which embraces hospitals and doctor’s surgeries, schools colleges, universities and the police.The fundamental change resulting from the Act is that all public bodies must disclose virtually any information to anyone who demands it. The exceptions relate to such things as advice to ministers and matters concerning the security services. This wide sweeping disclosure requirement contrasts with the Data Protection Act under which only individuals could obtain information about themselves. See Publicnet Briefing 24 January 2001 about the way the Channel Four political satirist Mark Thomas put in a standard ‘subject access’ request to the DTI and received a batch of more or less abusive emails revealing officials had attempted to “starve him of information”.

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RADICAL REFORM OF TAX AND BENEFIT SYSTEM

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 January, 2001

The government wants to create an integrated and seamless system of financial support for children. The aim will be to bring together working families’ tax credit, income support and the children’s tax credit which make up the current system of financial support for children. This new integrated child credit will be a radical reform of the tax and benefit system, affecting nearly all the 7 million families with children in the UK.The thinking behind the change is that families with children are more concentrated at the bottom of the income distribution than families without children. Lone parents tend to have lower incomes than couples with children, and large families have lower average incomes than smaller families. The design of the integrated child credit is an opportunity to rationalise the existing mechanisms for supporting families with children that have evolved over decades. Introducing an integrated child credit could cost around 1 billion pounds a year, with the gains concentrated on poorer families.

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BENCHMARKING FOR LARGER IT PROJECTS

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 January, 2001

Benchmarking is to be introduced for the larger central government IT projects in a further move to limit implementation disasters. All the larger projects will be subject to a performance measurement regime which will include benchmarking and use of the balanced scorecard.Measuring implementation performance is one of the issues being addressed by a joint Government IT industry group – the ‘Senior Forum’. Peter Gershon, Chief Executive of the Office for Government Commerce is the chair, and he works with John Higgins at the Computing Services and Software Association to find solutions to the joint systemic issues facing government and industry on government IT enabled projects. The Senior Forum has also set up working groups on: building open relationships, procurement process, people and skills and delivering business change.

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PROGRESS ON TACKLING SOCIAL EXCLUSION

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 January, 2001

The Government says it has listened to – and implemented – the ideas put forward in far-reaching consultation with people living in deprived areas.It says that more than 85 per cent of the 569 recommendations made by cross-cutting Policy Action Teams (PATS) are now central to Government strategy aimed at improving deprived neighbourhoods.

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ACTION ZONES PROVIDE TEMPLATE

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 January, 2001

The lessons learned from the establishment of Education Action Zones (EAZs) can be applied to other government programmes involving the setting up of innovative new bodies, says the National Audit Office (NAO).The debate may continue about the educational achievements of the EAZs, or their success at developing true partnerships with business, but they have proved so far to be a safe method of administering resources.

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LEGISLATING FOR CULTURAL CHANGE

Abstracts, PublicNet: 29 January, 2001

Skinner JThe International Journal of Public Sector Management, (UK), 2000 Vol 13 No 6

Start page: 540. No of pages: 9

Examines the implementation of the UK 1998 Crime and Disorder Act from a participant-observer perspective; focuses on the problems and issues that have arisen with regard to agency joint working to tackle crime in the community over a two year period. Investigates how the police have responded to this strategy; highlights issues relating to different organizational culture and basic assumption with regard to other
organizations in the community and the existence of a ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture. Describes the Community Safety initiative and the development of a three-year strategy; notes the specific initiatives and performance indicators that they are required to meet. Refers to a survey questionnaire carried out in 1999 to identify people’s perception of crime in a town, village and rural area. Lists the major issues from the survey and reports on how they were used to draw up a series of actions and performance targets for the relevant agencies and organizations; discusses the implications for joint agency work in the community.

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QUALITY OF LIFE CHECK

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 January, 2001

A survey is to be launched to find out what people think about the quality of life ‘barometer’ by which the government measures our social, economic and environmental wellbeing.Thousands of people across England will take part in a DETR study designed to get a picture of how the public perceive their overall quality of life and to get their views on the government’s ‘headline indicators’ which cover everyday concerns such as health, jobs, education, crime, economic prosperity, air quality and wildlife.

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OLDER PEOPLE WANT JOINED UP SERVICES

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 January, 2001

Older people have revealed in a large-scale survey that they are keen to embrace joined-up customer-orientated public services.Far from shying away from change, people over 50 have been asking the Government to join up services which they make most use of – including local authorities, social services, Inland Revenue, National Health Service and the voluntary sector.

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