Archives for July 25th, 2002

MESSAGE BEYOND THE MEDIUM

Abstracts, PublicNet: 25 July, 2002

This report by the Audit Commission looks at the way local councils have responded to e-government. Local government spent an estimated 1.8 billion pounds on ICT in 2001/02 and councils estimate a further 2.5 billion pounds is required. The Commission believes that ICT has not been well managed in the public sector and the risks are increasing. Because e-government is relevant to everything a council does, it makes it difficult to know where to start. Some councils are implementing e-government by engaging their staff and by taking a realistic view of their capacity and performance. Other councils are finding it difficult to get started, and are struggling to access the necessary skills and to engage members. For these councils, e-government feels separate from, and marginal to, the core business of the council. There is a clear risk that for many councils e-government could mean improved access, but unimproved service. Many councils are focusing on broadening access to existing services and information by putting them online or making them available through call centers. A few councils have the dual objectives of improving access and improving quality. But for most, improving services trails behind. The Government’s national strategy sets out a pathway to local e-government success. But more needs to be done.Message Beyond the Medium Published by The Audit Commission. Reference LNR2724 25.00 pounds. http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk,

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DEVOLUTION WORKING WELL FOR UNIONS

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 July, 2002

The Public and Commercial Services Union is pleased with the benefits that have flowed from devolution to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Union members range from typists to managers who work in Government Departments and Agencies, huge international companies such as EDS and small service providers. Pay negotiations have brought rewards in the form of a three year pay agreements. The finance ministry in Scotland recognised that pay had lagged behind the private sector and this resulted in significant improvements. Negotiators believe that the key element was the break from the Treasury in Whitehall, which they consider to be hidebound in working with unions. In Wales the result was increases of between 24 to 28 per cent for the three year period. The other major benefit has been working relations. Because Edinburgh and Cardiff are much smaller than London, networking has been improved. Devolution has brought greater access to senior politicians and officials. In Scotland Union officials work directly to 22 ministers, half of whom are in the cabinet. The finance minister also attended a group meeting.

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GREATER ROLE FOR VOLUNTARY SECTOR IN DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 July, 2002

The voluntary sector is set to take on a much more significant role in the delivery of public services following the finalization of the Treasury’s Cross Cutting Review. The sector is already extensively involved in the delivery of public services with some 61% of charities concerned with accommodation and housing, social care, health, education and training. The Review report, which will be published in about one month, will set out a blue print for getting the sector more involved in service delivery.That sector will be encouraged to bring its distinctive approach to service delivery such as its ex-addict volunteers and employees working on a drug rehabilitation programme or ex-offenders working with young offenders. Public service workers are, too often, perceived as representatives of an alien authority, but the voluntary sector is free to side with the user against the perceived threat of authority. For margin alized groups who are hard to help, this identification with the user perspective is crucially important

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