Archives for August 7th, 2002

SOFTWARE SURVEY

Abstracts, PublicNet: 7 August, 2002

The Society of Information Technology Management’s fourth annual survey of application software shows that there has been some significant rationalisation among suppliers working in the local authority sector over the last year. At the same time, the Index of Application Software reveals that there are a large number of suppliers with just one or two installations across local government and that the market continues to be served by a large number of small suppliers specialising in particular applications. The survey also suggests that there has been a significant move away from in house developed systems over the past year. In the area of general ledgers it has dropped from 17 to 11%, in payroll from 12 to 9%, in personnel systems from 18 to 16%, in social services client record systems from 39 to 35%, and in vehicle maintenance from 18 to 16%. With a mature market for local government software these days, this trend suggests that most replacement systems are being bought in. Nevertheless there are still a lot of in house developed systems in use (an average 17% across all applications).The Socitm survey includes software used in 61 function areas by 289authorities, one housing association and 26 Fire authorities in England,Wales and Scotland. The functions include Financial, People and Property systems as well as specialist systems for front-line services such as Environmental Health, Libraries, Social Services and Housing Management.

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CULTURE ONLINE COMING SOON

Headlines, PublicNet: 7 August, 2002

Art and culture will be brought into classrooms and homes through ‘Culture Online’. The new service, using the latest digital technology will be launched by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Culture Online will link into Curriculum Online and the National Grid for Learning, both run by the Department for Education and Skills. The aim is to increase and deepen access to and participation in the arts and culture.With a budget of 13 million pounds the Department is ready to fund 20 to 30 projects over the next two years targeted at children and adults. It is looking for partners to help to deliver the vision and has invited expressions of interest from organizations, companies and consortia that can put projects together. The range of projects may include the resources of museums, galleries and heritage sites, archives of written, broadcast and film materials, the performing arts, oral history and community projects. Projects should be innovative and demonstrate the creative use of new technologies. Most importantly, they should enable users to participate in new and exciting ways, perhaps by creating their own content or getting involved in real as well as virtual activities.

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CALL FOR SERVICE IMPROVEMENT THINKING IN TOWN HALLS TO BE MORE RADICAL

Headlines, PublicNet: 7 August, 2002

Real improvement in council services demands rigorous challenge of the way things are done now, innovative thinking about potential improvements and robust assessment of options. This is the message to local councils from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in a consultation paper on Best Value and Performance Improvement. The paper puts into effect the changes from the Best Value Review published in May 2002 and draws on reports aimed at improving performance in local government, such as ‘Changing Gear’ by the Audit Commission and the Byatt Report on procurement.The guidance urges councils to avoid the pitfalls of the Best Value regime such as complying with the review methodology rather than focusing on improvements, setting narrow limits for reviews and relying too much on routine market testing. It stresses that the removal of the requirement to review all activities within a five year period now opens the way to focus reviews on priorities.

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