Archives for April 2001

FACILITATING LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS: MAKING LEARNING COUNT

Book News, PublicNet: 30 April, 2001

Marsick V J, Watkins K EAddresses the process of creating and maintaining a learning organization. Focuses on the facilitation process, rather than presenting any new models of the learning organization. Approaches three action technologies such as action research, action learning and action science, and partnership between line managers and human resource professionals. Outlines an iterative change cycle-diagnosis, visioning change, building alignment around the vision, framing and implementing collaborative experiments, monitoring outcomes and reframing new experiments. Discusses the use of a diagnostic instrument, dimensions of the learning organization questionnaire (DLOQ) to create conversation in an organization on where to begin a change process. Explores how knowledge is created and managed in organizations, and how facilitators can help an organization create a system of practice for using its knowledge.

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COUNT ME IN CAMPAIGN DRAWS TO A CLOSE

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 April, 2001

Providing the ‘count me in’ campaign has achieved its goal, every householder in the UK will have completed a Census form by today. Responsibility now passes to Royal Mail which is set to handle up to 27 million freepost envelopes through its system. In terms of the amount of mail involved, this is second busiest time to Christmas.The ten year Census will provide a benchmark for social and economic change in Britain over the next decade. It is a vital resource for planners, managers and marketers throughout the private, public and voluntary sectors. The Census produces two billion items of data, which over the next three years will be broken down to provide more detailed analysis for local authorities and business planners who will use the data to build a demographic picture of the UK, evaluate potential markets and locate new offices, factories and distribution centres. Typically around 45 billion pounds of the government’s annual expenditure is determined by information from the Census – around £750 for each man, woman and child in Britain.

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GOVERNMENT SAVES 6.5b POUNDS AS HOUSING BENEFIT CLAIMS FALL

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 April, 2001

A sharp decline in the number of Housing Benefit claimants during the past four years has enabled the Treasury to save around 6.5 billion pounds, compared with the previous government’s spending plans. The savings are largely due to a drop of almost a third in the number of private sector tenants claiming Housing Benefit.Research findings published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation show that the decline has coincided with restrictions placed on claims in 1996. These linked the maximum rent for which benefit can be claimed to local circumstances. They also meant that Housing Benefit became payable in arrears.

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AUDITORS FIND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SHAMBLES IN EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 April, 2001

The National Audit Office has again heavily criticized the European Commission for its inept financial management. The accounts produced by the Commission are unreliable, the high rate of error has not improved in the past six years and fraud continues unabated. The report authors have drawn on the Annual Report by the European Court of Auditors, which covered the management of the General Budget of the European Union for 1999. The Commission has overall responsibility for implementing the Budget, which totalled 54 billion pounds in 1999.The Commission has begun to implement the strategy for reform which was developed by Commission Vice-President Neil Kinnock following the resignation of the previous Commission in 1999. The key elements of the strategy are strengthening audit, financial management and control. Progress has been patchy and much of the reform strategy is yet to be implemented. One of the main obstacles to be overcome is a culture change which will take time to achieve.

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EMPLOYMENT AND BENEFITS MERGER TO BRING IMPROVED SERVICE

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 April, 2001

The launch of 50 Jobcentre Plus pathfinders will bring together under one roof the services of job finding and benefits claiming. The reason for the merger is that in many cases it is the same person who needs both services. The remaining 1000 offices will be merged next year when it is expected to be clear which merger strategies work best.The new merged service, under its Chief Executive Leigh Lewis, plans to improve services to its job seeker and employer customers. The old job vacancy boards – one of the most enduring images of Jobcentres – are being replaced by easy-to-use, touch-screen kiosks known as Jobpoints. As a result jobseekers will be able to access up-to-date vacancy information, not just for their local area, but for any part of Britain.

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LOCAL E-GOVERNMENT NOW

Book News, PublicNet: 26 April, 2001

This report by report by the Improvement and Development Agency and the Society of IT Management identifies pioneer authorities in a “state of the nation” review. The report reveals that a small number of pioneer local authorities are at the leading-edge of the e-revolution in the UK public sector, but that local government as a whole is yet to fully exploit the real potential of e-government. This authoritative assessment of preparations for local e-government in the UK, shows that the majority of authorities will need to move swiftly to emulate these pioneers. Authorities must build on successes found across the country if they are to achieve the transformational change that local e-government requires and meet Government’s target for 100% electronic service delivery by 2005.The report recognises that the local e-government agenda is increasingly being addressed by local authorities, with 220 involved in expressions of interest in DETR’s Local Government Online Pathfinder competition and 77% of authorities having developed or in the process of developing local e-government strategies.Published by Improvement and Development Agency, at 75 pounds. IDeA, 76-86 Turnmill Street, London EC1M 5LG. Tel:020 7296 6818. Fax: 020 7296 6849. Email: fred.baron@idea.gov.uk

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POST MORTEM REVEALS WHY PROBATION SERVICE COMPUTER SYSTEM FAILED

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 April, 2001

The National Audit Office post mortem on the inability of the Probation Service to deliver a reliable computer system reveals that a lack of leadership was the primary cause of failure. During the seven year life of the project there were seven project managers. A key element of the guidance on the development of large IT systems issued last year is that a senior responsible owner should take total responsibility and the NAO report shows that this advice came much too late to save the development from disaster.Another feature of the new guidance is that major projects should be subject to strict tests along the development path before being allowed to pass through the gateway to the next stage. If this requirement had been in force it is unlikely that the project would have passed through many gateways. .

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FRONTLINE ORGANIZATIONS GET GREATER POWER IN HEALTH SERVICE REFORM

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 April, 2001

Health Minister Alan Milburn has published plans to trim the top tiers of health service administration and devolve more power to primary care trusts. This move follows the trend in other parts of the public sector where power is moving away from Whitehall and passing down to the sharp end. Primary care trusts will join with local strategic partnerships and neighbourhood managers to form a local power base which responds to the needs of people in the area.The lever of power will move downwards by giving primary care trusts 75 percent of the NHS budget. They will decide on how the budget will be spent between GP surgeries, local hospitals and other local services.

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CAPITA CHIEF SETS OUT PUBLIC SERVICE VISION

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 April, 2001

Rod Aldridge, the Executive Chairman of Capita, the support services provider, has a vision of the public sector creating strategic partnerships with privates sector companies to transform the way services are delivered. Speaking to the Public Management and Policy Association he questioned the capacity of public bodies, either on their own or collaborating with each other, to deliver the modernization agenda that politicians and the public want. Because transformation demands a change in culture, access to expertise and capital investment, the private sector must play a significant role.He argued that it is highly inefficient for 300 councils to have their own processes and staff to collect council tax and for the NHS to have support sites serving small groups of Trusts. The creation of ‘business centres’ to handle common tasks would deliver big savings which could be plough back into front line services.

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DEPARTMENTS TOLD TO GET SMARTER IN BUYING PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 April, 2001

The Comptroller and Auditor General has told central government departments that they need to sharpen up their act when buying professional services. The report by the National Audit Office is based on a survey of 152 departments aimed at finding out how they bought services. The survey covered consultancy and advisory services, the design, development and implementation of information systems, advertising for recruitment of staff, the delivery of contracted out services such as payroll administration, research and development, and staff substitutionThe report claims that if Departments adopt the advice to act as intelligent customers by discussing with suppliers all the elements of the contract price, they could cut expenditure by 10 percent and save 60 million pounds a year. Most of the savings could come from a tougher negotiating approach based on better information about comparative fees. Researchers found that almost one third of contracts were awarded on the basis of single tender or informal price tendering and that some contracts were open to interpretation. The report identifies further costs savings from the use of competitive tendering and from contracts that are more tightly drawn up.

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