Archives for December 5th, 2003

BEACON COUNCIL SCHEME DELIVERING RESULTS

Headlines, PublicNet: 5 December, 2003

Beacon councils are contributing to local government modernization. An evaluation of the scheme commissioned by the Improvement and Development Agency and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and carried out by Warwick University found that learning has been promoted and change has resulted. The scheme is based on the assumption that modernisation and continuous improvement can be promoted by encouraging councils to learn from other councils which currently perform best. The aim of the scheme is to help to raise standards across all councils by awarding recognition of Beacon status to those judged to be models of excellence and able to demonstrate their exemplary practice.Beacon Councils have found their experience to be worthwhile. Knowledge of the scheme has helped more broadly with other aspects of modernisation, particularly Best Value. Half of the 386 councils who were surveyed, planned or made changes and improvements in specific service themes or in corporate performance as a result of taking part in some form of best practice sharing. Three-quarters of councils gained information that enhanced the implementation of the Best Value review process. Over half of the surveyed councils acquired models and data that helped them to improve performance management.

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GETTING A MEASURE OF PUBLIC SERVICE PRODUCTIVITY

Headlines, PublicNet: 5 December, 2003

The assessment of public service productivity by the Office for National Statistics published in June this year was heavily criticised for its simplistic approach. The Office has responded by launching a review of the future development of measures of government output, productivity and associated price indices. The review will be led by Sir Tony Atkinson, Warden of Nuffield College Oxford. He previously was Professor of Economics successively at Essex University, University College London, the London School of Economics and Cambridge University. He will be supported by a team made up from ONS staff and staff seconded from the Bank of England and the Treasury, supported by statisticians, economists and analysts from government departments responsible for the relevant public services.The assessment published in June concluded that public service productivity was declining. This was based on evidence that between 1995 and 2001 government output went up by 11 per cent while the volume of its inputs rose by 14 per cent. The unreliability of this form of reasoning was demonstrated from a number of areas. In education for example, improved exam results is an outcome which might result from better teaching, but other factors influencing the situation include the existence of the internet, better public libraries and more support from parents.

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DO IT YOURSELF – PROFESSIONAL LEARNING

Features, PublicNet: 5 December, 2003

By Ewart Wooldridge. Reproduced by permission of the Centre for Management and Policy Studies. Professional learning comes in many shapes and sizes. Ewart Wooldrige, Director of the Centre for Management and Policy Studies, describes how a group of civil servants from different organizations have managed their own development over the past five years. He explains how, with a minimum of ‘professional’ input, the group have shared experiences and supported each other.

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