Archives for July 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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PERFORMANCE DRIVERS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO USING THE BALANCED SCORECARD

Book News, PublicNet: 24 July, 2002

By Nils Goran Olve, Jan Roy and Magnus WetterThe concept of the Balanced Scorecard, first introduced by Kaplan and Norton in a Harvard Business Review article in 1992, enables managers and company leaders to implement a successful performance measurement plan which incorporates both financial and operational concerns. It gives managers a fast, comprehensive view of the business, allowing them to focus on critical areas and drive the organization’s strategy forward. Today, numerous large consultancies and their large, multinational clients are using the Balanced Scorecard as a method of performance measurement and a performance driver. This guide shows managers how to apply the Balanced Scorecard, enabling them to view several areas of performance simultaneously–a requirement in today’s complex organizations.

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BOOST FOR SOCIAL ENTERPRISE BUSINESS

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 July, 2002

Businesses that are driven by social rather than economic goals and use profits to further social purpose rather than maximise value for shareholders, will benefit from “Social Enterprise: a strategy for success”, launched by Trade Secretary, Patricia Hewitt.The strategy includes devising an accreditation scheme for social enterprises in a way similar to Investors in People providing accreditation to organizations that meet criteria in relation the their workforce. There will also be increased involvement of social enterprise in public service delivery. A campaign to promote this involvement will include fostering a greater understanding of social enterprises among those responsible for public sector procurement and the production of a toolkit giving jargon free, simple guidelines to bidding for public contracts.

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EXECUTIVE AGENCIES FACING SHAKE UP

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 July, 2002

A critical Cabinet Office review has called for a new revolution to take place within central departments to bring their 127 executive agencies into the 21st century. The agencies were split off from parent departments in 1989 to secure a more focused service delivery and they provide functions such as pensions, passports, vehicle licences and prisons.The review team, which was led by Pam Alexander, former Chief Executive of English Heritage, found that the agencies are contributing little to the modernizing agenda. The main weaknesses were the way in which agencies had become detached from their departments and their departments’ aspiration, and their conservative approach to performance management and target setting.

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STAKEHOLDERS EMPOWERED IN MOVE TO DRIVE UP COUNCIL STANDARDS

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 July, 2002

Stakeholders now have the opportunity to bring pressure on their local councils to narrow the gap between the best and the worst performers. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has launched a website that allows users to check the performance of their council on 97 aspects of services delivered locally. The data is divided into 10 headings including corporate health, education, social services and community safety. The data for each councils is compared to the average Best Value Performance Indicator or Audit Commission data.Stakeholders, whether they are interests groups or individuals, or the media, will be able to compile tables and graphics of how a council is performing. In addition to making a comparison with the average they will also be able to compile a statistical picture of how a councils is performing in relation to its neighbours or in relation to similar councils in similar settings in different parts of the country.

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RED TAPE WATCHDOG FINDS BUREAUCRACY ALIVE AND WELL

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 July, 2002

The Better Regulation Task Force, an independent group commissioned by the Cabinet Office has uncovered “a confusing organizational landscape fraught with over-complexity and multiple accountabilities.” In two reports the Task Force describes how they looked at the way central policy is delivered locally in relation to training and skills, higher education and economic development.The role of the Task Force is to advise the Government on regulation and its enforcement to ensure that it is no more onerous than it need be. Its members are drawn from the private and public sectors and they are unpaid. A team of officials from the Cabinet Office supports them.

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EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS SURVEY

Abstracts, PublicNet: 22 July, 2002

This survey by Manpower, the UK’s leading recruitment and outsourcing company, involved over 2000 employing organizations. 25% of employers in the Public Sector said they would be increasing staffing levels; with 7% expecting to decrease staffing levels; leaving a ‘net balance’ of 19% planning to take on staff. Manpower concludes that employment prospects in the Public Sector continue to grow positively, with local government and public sector industries appearing to benefit from the impact of Government spending priorities. Health is second in the sector league table with a net balance of 28% – the second highest level in the last 10 years. Education is at the bottom of the table with a negative balance, a net 1% of employers are planning a reduction in staff next quarter. The survey report points out that with the UK GDP up and inflation and interest rates remaining low, employment prospects in the UK are like to continue to improve.Survey of Employment Prospect published by Manpower available from 020 8870 2214; or e-mail nicky@saltlondon.com.

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MODERNISATION WEBSITE

Headlines, PublicNet: 22 July, 2002

The Privy Council website has been re-launched, with a new focus on news about the Government’s modernisation agenda.There’s background on modernisation of the Commons in the form of a memorandum by Leader of the House Robin Cook on his proposals and the work of the Select Committee to date.

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