Archives for August 17th, 2005

SETTING PUBLIC SERVICE OUTCOME TARGETS: LESSONS FROM LOCAL SERVICE AGREEMENTS

Abstracts, PublicNet: 17 August, 2005

By George A. Boyne and Jennifer LawPublic agencies in the UK and elsewhere are increasingly required to set outcome targets as a strategy for improving their services. A crucial element of this ‘results orientation’ is a clear definition of the desired outcomes and a specification of appropriate performance indicators. A recent example of this policy in the UK-Local Public Service Agreements is examined in this article. The authors’ analysis of the first generation of LPSAs shows that just under half of the indicators used were measures of outcome. The authors explain the ‘wicked’ issues in outcome measurement that emerged from the research.

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BETTER INFORMED HOUSE BUYERS LEADING TO UNDESIGNED OUTCOME

Headlines, PublicNet: 17 August, 2005

The emergence of neighbourhood information websites providing detailed area data could widen the gap between rich and poor and create a wider digital divide. The new systems with details of the best schools or lowest crime figures could lead to a more segregated society and help house buyers to choose areas with the kind of existing residents they would most want as neighbours. The warning comes from a report ‘Neighbourhoods on the Net’ commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.In the United States neighbourhood websites enable users to search for neighbourhoods that match their prioritised criteria, using extensive, zip-coded data sets compiled by market research companies. Equivalent websites in the UK do not yet offer neighbourhood searches by ranked characteristics, but a number of commercial sites feature information collected by postcode; while the Government’s own Neighbourhood Statistics website provides statistical, demographic and environmental information on neighbourhoods.

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AUDIT COMMISSION GOES COMMERCIAL

Headlines, PublicNet: 17 August, 2005

As hospitals become foundation trusts and move into the area of profit and loss, the Audit Commission is threatened with a loss of business. Hospitals may prefer auditors well versed in the commercial accounting world to those concerned about whether public money is spent economically, efficiently, and effectively in the areas of local government, housing, health, criminal justice and fire and rescue services. The Commission is responding to the challenge by changing and adapting and ensuring that auditors have commercial expertise, experience and knowledge.So far 31 trusts have gained Foundation Trust status and a further 32 trusts are eligible to apply for the next phase of authorisations due from 1 April 2006. The trusts are tailored to the needs of local populations and run by local managers, staff and members of the public. The Health and Social Care Act 2003 establishes NHS foundation trusts as independent public benefit corporations modelled on co-operative and mutual traditions. The first foundation trusts were authorised by Monitor, the regulator, from 1 April 2004.

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