Archives for December 2003

HARROW ‘HEROES’ REAP TOP TEAM AWARD

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 December, 2003

A team from the London Borough of Harrow has been singled out for demonstrating the best of public sector management and team working and has won the Top Team 2003 competition. The competition, now in its eighth year, recognises innovation and excellence in the public sector.The winners saw off competition from six other nominated authorities. The award is organised by the Local Government Management Network in conjunction with the Improvement and Development Agency, Norman Broadbent business consultants, the GMB, and Deloitte & Touche. The New Harrow Project Team was recognised for understanding and leading the environmental revolution taking place in the borough.

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COUNCILS SHARE CASH FOR RECYCLING SCHEMES

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 December, 2003

Fourteen local authority partnerships are to share more than 62 million pounds in funding after putting forward successful proposals for waste minimisation and recycling. The money will be paid over the next two years by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The department said the 14 approvals represented a greater number of high value proposals than had been expected and an overall increase in the total level of funding for partnership projects.The successful partnerships were Buckinghamshire, Cambridge, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Essex, Greater Manchester, Gloucestershire and Shropshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Merseyside and Somerset and Suffolk The successful proposals cover 7.5 million tonnes of England’s annual waste production. The authorities will each benefit from up to five million pounds as well as receiving Government support services to help them deliver high quality environmental solutions.

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE – REDUCING BUREAUCRACY

Abstracts, PublicNet: 16 December, 2003

This report from the Cabinet Office on reducing bureaucracy in central government procurement sets out the barriers that lead to inefficiency and what can be done to overcome them. The barriers are common across public services and the remedies are applicable to all public bodies.Long procurement timescales slow down the delivery of projects and increase costs. Timescales can be reduced by improving professionalism and creating streamlined and consistent processes. Better delivery is hampered by a lack of professionalism. There needs to be an improvement in the skills of staff in the commercial role and in decision-making. Action is needed to improve the commercial skills of senior civil servants and the professionalism of project teams.

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THE SCRUTINY MAP

Book News, PublicNet: 15 December, 2003

In recent years the concept of scrutiny has gained renewed currency in Britain, prompted largely by the constitutional reforms instituted by the Labour government elected in 1997. Underpinning this development is the understanding that scrutiny is an essential part of ensuring that our governing arrangements are both effective and accountable. The scrutiny map charts the increasing number and variety of bodies now involved in public scrutiny and sets out their functions, powers and responsibilities.Specialist scrutiny bodies are typically organisations that have a clearly defined remit, with specific statutory functions and powers, to evaluate and inspect public sector performance in a particular area. Examples include inspectorates like Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Lay scrutiny bodies may comprise elected representatives (for example, local government overview and scrutiny committees) or volunteers appointed to represent the wider community (such as rail passengers committees), in order to represent the broader public interest in keeping an executive body or policy area under review. Hybrid bodies combine a scrutiny role with executive or other functions, such as school governing bodies or public sector Ombudsmen. The scrutiny map considers bodies involved in the scrutiny of executive government at central, devolved, regional and local government levels, and in the following public policy areas: criminal justice, education, health, public utilities and transport.

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ONLINE DICTIONARY A FIRST FOR NHS

Headlines, PublicNet: 15 December, 2003

The National Health Service has developed its first ever definitive dictionary of medicines and devices. The online service, to be known as the dm+d, has been a joint project by the NHS Information Authority and the Prescription Pricing Authority.The dictionary will be available for use across all sectors of health care delivery and will allow computer systems to exchange information about the specific medicines or devices used in the diagnosis or treatment of individual patients. It provides a unique code for each product and a text description. It is integrated with SNOMED Clinical Terms, the standard clinical terminology for health information IT systems.

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MOST COUNCILS SPEEDING UP PLANNING PROCESS

Headlines, PublicNet: 15 December, 2003

The speed with which most local councils are making planning decisions has improved dramatically according to new figures from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The latest planning performance checklist shows an increase in the number of authorities meeting targets for handling planning applications compared with the position six months ago.The checklist is the first to be published since the initial slice of the planning delivery grant was paid to authorities. It shows the level of development control performance that will be taken into account in the awards for 2004/05, but Planning Minister Keith Hill said it would not be the only area the government would be rewarding, as good quality plan making would also feature.

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CAMPAIGNERS SAY COMMUNITY SCHEMES ARE BEST WAY TO CUT SHOPLIFTING

Headlines, PublicNet: 12 December, 2003

The crime reduction campaign group SmartJustice is calling for more investment in community schemes after releasing figures that show that eight out of ten shoplifters are reconvicted within two years of being released from prison. The figures are being highlighted in the run up to Christmas when retail theft is at its peak.SmartJustice says shop theft costs retailers around 750 million pounds a year and adds to customers’ bills by around 100 pounds per household per year. Alcohol is the product most likely to be stolen at this time of year, followed by clothing, cosmetics, aftershave and perfume. Research shows that shoplifters follow traditional Christmas shopping patterns by targeting heavily promoted brand name products.

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REPORT SAYS GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS MUST IMPROVE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 12 December, 2003

Only a quarter of Government departments are taking full advantage of recent changes that allow them to make improved use of money, assets and other resources. A report today from the National Audit Office says there is still a tendency towards wasteful surges in spending in the final weeks of the financial year.In the report, Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, says many departments have begun to take advantage of new flexibilities but they can do still more to improve the management of what they have so that they can deliver high quality public services. The changes to improve resource management include three-year budgets, greater flexibility to carry forward unspent funds into future years, resources linked to targets and the introduction of commercial style accounting and budgeting. Sir John says making full use of these tools requires a stepwise change in departmental behaviour.

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DIGITAL TELEVISION FRAMEWORK

Abstracts, PublicNet: 12 December, 2003

This document outlines the Governments vision on how to deliver services and information to the citizens over digital television and encourages departments and local authorities to evaluate the benefits of DTV. Over 45% of UK households now have DTV. It presents a wealth of opportunities to improve the way services are delivered and used. Effective use of the medium will give citizens the opportunity to communicate with government at a time and place of their choosing. A number of innovative DTV pilot projects are already operating, including those from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department of Health and the Department of Work and Pensions. The new framework will promote learning from these examples and encourage others to build on them.The Framework is published by the Office of the e-Envoy and is available at: http://www.govtalk.gov.uk/policydocs/consult_subject_document.asp?docnum=833

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LOCALISING THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE

Book News, PublicNet: 11 December, 2003

By Rt Hon John Reid MP, Secretary of State for Health.In this pamphlet, Rt Hon John Reid MP, Secretary of State for Health explains why for more than 50 years an emphasis on uniform national service provision in health – and elsewhere – has sold many people short and not led to greater equity. Localising the National Health Service also considers how an increased sense of local identity is feeding expectations about the local bodies that deliver public services, be they Town Hall, school or hospital. In outlining specific proposals for increased local ‘ownership’ of health care, the Health Secretary makes his case for establishing a more localised national health service – locally driven, locally responsive and locally accountable.

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