Archives for November 6th, 2003

COUNCILS FACE PENALTY FOR DECLINING PERFORMANCE

Headlines, PublicNet: 6 November, 2003

Rewards for councils that achieved an ‘excellent’ rating in the 2002 comprehensive performance assessment regime will be taken away from them if performance is not maintained. The 2003 performance assessment results will be announced next month and councils that move down the table from excellent to good will be given one year’s grace before losing the rewards of their success.The rewards currently take the form of freedom from nearly all inspection, exemption from the need to produce a raft of plans and flexibility in spending grant funds through a reduction in ring-fencing. Further freedoms are promised as new legislation becomes effective. The purpose of the freedoms and flexibilities is to give excellent councils an opportunity to be innovative and find new ways of delivering better public services.

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MAJOR SHARE IN MIXED ECONOMY E-GOVERNMENT MARKET MAY GO TO COUNCILS

Headlines, PublicNet: 6 November, 2003

Councils are set to play a major role in delivering e-government services for central departments. The e-Envoy wants to create a mixed economy in delivering the services of departments and he issued a consultation paper asking for views on a framework for involving private sector companies and voluntary organizations. The surprise result from the consultation was that councils are well placed to compete in this mixed economy.The consultation paper set out a vision of intermediaries from the public, private and voluntary sectors making a significant contribution to delivering services electronically to improve their availability and usability. For example, a voluntary organization could bring expertise to the delivery of a particular service of the Department of Work and Pensions. Similarly an accountancy firm could add value to a service of the Inland Revenue. All departments were told prior to the consultation that they should involve private and voluntary sector intermediaries for e-Government services as part of their overall e-Government strategy. They have now been told to involve councils as well.

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NATIONAL PROCUREMENT STRATEGY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Abstracts, PublicNet: 6 November, 2003

Local authorities spend over 40bn pounds each year providing essential services. A tradition of individual purchasing decisions by over 400 separate councils, often buying the same thing, means that they don’t take advantage of their collective buying power to negotiate lower prices or work with suppliers to develop better products and services. The National Procurement Strategy sets out how central and local government, working together with partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors, intend to set about improving local government procurement. The most innovative councils have already found ways to deliver significantly better services at lower costs. They have streamlined their procurement, worked in partnerships, redesigned the delivery of services, shared ‘back office’ systems and pooled their buying power.The Strategy has been written jointly by central and local government and involved many other partners. Key messages include: procurement is an essential element of cost effective and efficient services; the vision of better quality, cost effective services by 2006 will only be achieved if the Strategy is acted upon and councils need to take responsibility for action.

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