Archives for May 2nd, 2001

GOVERNMENT AND IT INDUSTRY WORKING TO AVOID DISASTERS

Headlines, PublicNet: 2 May, 2001

The continuing flow of new large scale computer systems that failed to deliver results, such as those at the Passport Office and the Probation Service, has prompted another initiative to get better value for money from the investment. Last year the Cabinet Office issued an implementation framework for the management of projects. Further help will emerge shortly when the Senior Forum, a group made up of representatives from the public sector and the IT industry, delivers its findings. The Forum is chaired by Peter Gershon, Chief Executive of the Office for Government Commerce and he works with John Higgins at the Computing Services and Software Association. The task for the Forum is to find solutions to the joint systemic issues facing government and industry on government IT enabled projects.The forum has set up working groups to look at issues such as the procurement process, which the IT industry considers tortuous and expensive. There is also a group looking at delivering business change, which has been a major weakness in the past because new computer systems were viewed as a bolt on extra and not as a total organization wide change.

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SECONDARY SCHOOLS MODERNIZATION PLANS

Headlines, PublicNet: 2 May, 2001

Education Secretary David Blunkett has revealed more detail in the plans to reform secondary education should Labour secure a second term. Key features of the plans are the development of specialist schools and the expansion of vocational education. In both areas it will be crucial to develop effective delivery mechanisms whilst maintaining a sensible balance both between accountability and workload for teachers and between central prescription and local freedoms. He acknowledged that all the plans depend on recruiting good teachers.The number of specialist schools has trebled since 1997 and will increase during the next parliament. No limit will be placed on the number of specialist schools and it is expected that by 2006 nearly half of all secondary schools will be able to specialize. Traditional specialist subjects such as Arts and Sport will be supplemented by new specialisms which will include engineering, science, and business and enterprise. Advanced Specialist Schools will also be introduced.

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POLITICAL MANAGEMENT IN THE AUSTRALIAN STATES

Abstracts, PublicNet: 2 May, 2001

By John HalliganGovernment in Australia is three-tiered – federal, state and local. The Australian states and territories operate within a Westminster tradition, although demonstrating significant departures. As large sub-national systems, they have developed central mechanisms for providing direction and co-ordination at the state level, and for seeking control of and responsiveness from the public service. This article reviews the patterns of change at the state level in Australia with regard to three sets of design issues: the organization of the political executive and central political direction; the vertical and horizontal aspects of the policy function; and the relations between the public service and politicians.

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