Archives for September 2005

FROM PRIVATE CHOICE TO PUBLIC VALUE

Features, PublicNet: 30 September, 2005

By John Benington Reproduced by permission of the Public Management and Policy Association. Greater choice in public services has become a key issue in public service reform. Some argue that the private market sector demonstrates the benefits of greater choice for consumers, but it is arguable that choice produces either greater quality or fitness for purpose. The author describes work in progress at Warwick and Harvard Universities to develop a stronger theory of ‘public value’ to provide a clearer conceptual framework and overall strategic purpose for public service improvement and reform.



NEWCASTLE FIRST TO SIGN UP TO SKILLS SCHEME

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 September, 2005

Newcastle City Council has become the first local authority to sign up to a national campaign designed to encourage councils and their staff take a more practical and ongoing approach to developing workplace skills for life. The council will work in partnership with Trade Unions under the Get On (GO) Local Government Award to provide support for employees who want to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.The Newcastle scheme will be delivered in partnership with the council’s Basic Skills Service and it will also identify support for workers with dyslexia.

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HAND HELD COMPUTERS ‘WILL CHANGE HEALTH CARE’

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 September, 2005

Hand held computer devices could change the way health care is delivered in the future according to an article published today in the medical journal, ‘The Lancet’. Dr Daniel C. Baumgart, who works in Berlin, has carried out a detailed study of the way various equipment is already being used in treatment and in the education of medical students.His review says doctors and other health care professionals are moving quickly to adopt Personal Digital Assistants, while Palm Pilots and other hand-held computers are increasingly popular with students. The increasing integration of these devices with information technology in hospitals will, he says, have an impact on the future delivery of care.

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ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL

Abstracts, PublicNet: 29 September, 2005

This case study from the IDeA outlines the different approaches two local authorities in Staffordshire have taken to delivering services through one-stop shops. A one-stop shop can be defined as the physical location where citizens can visit and access a range of local authority and partner organisation’s services in one place and in a seamless, convenient and integrated way. The layout and range of services offered by these shops varies from council to council. For Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, community-run one-stop shops deliver some of its services. Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, on the other hand, sets up its one-stop shops in partnership with the County Council. Both councils work with a range of partners – the police, Citizens Advice, Pension Service etc. – delivering their services either through surgeries or on their behalf.The key message emanating from this comparative study is: there is no single best approach to one-stop shops. A good understanding of local needs, the best use of available resources, and effective joining-up with local partners are a good basis from which to start.

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PLANNED MIXED TENURE CONTRIBUTES TO ESTATES’ SUCCESS

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 September, 2005

A new study has found that three estates built more than 20 years ago have avoided many of the problems associated with large concentrations of social housing because of their planned mix of homes for ownership and rent. The research conducted for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and published today, shows that the estates have developed into mature, ‘ordinary’ communities in spite of their higher than average levels of deprivation.The study was carried out in Peterborough, Norwich and Middlesbrough by researchers from Sheffield Hallam University. They conclude that a combination of mixed tenure, well-planned community facilities and a pleasant environment have enabled the estates to remain attractive places to live where demand for empty property remains high.

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PUBLIC SECTOR ‘FAILING TO LEARN FROM IT MISTAKES IN PRIVATE BUSINESS’

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 September, 2005

Public bodies are lagging behind private business in the integration of Information Technology into its core activities, according to a study by Mercury Interactive Corporation among skilled IT personnel. The result is that the public sector is failing to learn from the tough IT lessons suffered by the private sector.Mercury, a leading organisation in business technology optimisation found the private sector was making best use of technology to improve business performance and address investment errors made during the 1990s technology boom, but government IT initiatives were only just starting to do so. Seven out of ten private sector professionals thought IT was now well integrated into their core business but only 34 per cent of public sector professionals shared that view.

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SETTING UP A PARTNERSHIP

Book News, PublicNet: 28 September, 2005

By E Gray-King and D WilcoxPartnerships are about sharing creativity, risk and responsibility and streamlining tasks to those best suited to do them. If partnerships are established well, the productivity of a partnership is higher than if each partner worked separately as a result of each doing what they do best. The guide describes the advantages and definition of partnership, how to choose a partner and build a partnership. It also helps local authorities, private sector bodies, and voluntary organisations faced with tight timetables and firm guidelines to think through the complexities for partnership. The guide includes a worksheet and draft letter for partners to commit to.

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AGENCY WANTS RADICAL THINKING ON ROLE OF SCOTLAND’S SCHOOLS

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 September, 2005

The Scottish executive is facing a call today to move away from the traditional idea of schools and towards the introduction of children and young people’s centres, which would encompass not just primary and secondary education but full-time pre-school services and out-of-school care and where at least half the staff would have a graduate or equivalent qualification.The call comes from Children in Scotland – a national agency for voluntary, statutory and professional organisations and individuals working with children and families. In oral evidence today to the Scottish Parliament Education Committee’s Early Years Enquiry, Bronwen Cohen, the chief executive of Children in Scotland, will call for more radical thinking around schools. She said the concept of a children and young people’s centre built on the idea of integrated community schools.

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COUNCIL SCRUTINY COMMITTEES URGED TO WORK WITH VOLUNTARY SECTOR

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 September, 2005

A new report details ways in which local authority overview and scrutiny committees can work with the voluntary and community sector to improve service delivery and encourage civil renewal. The guide – ‘On the Radar’ – is published by the Centre for Public Scrutiny.It says joint working is mutually beneficial because the voluntary sector can strengthen the local government scrutiny function, by providing or facilitating more representative evidence for scrutiny reviews. At the same time scrutiny committees give voluntary and community groups the chance to work directly with elected councillors and to influence decision-making and policy development. The report says that for relationships between the two parties to reach their full potential they have to be mainstreamed in a council’s corporate strategy.

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PERFORMANCE DECLINE AND TURNAROUND IN PUBLIC ORGANISATIONS

Abstracts, PublicNet: 27 September, 2005

By Pauline Jas and Chris SkelcherPublic sector performance is currently a significant issue for management practice and policy, and especially the turnaround of those organizations delivering less than acceptable results. Theories of organizational failure and turnaround derive largely from the business sector and require adaptation to the public service. The performance of public organizations is more complex to measure, is related to institutional norms, and the idea of ‘failure’ is problematic. Empirical findings from a study of poorly performing English local authorities are used to develop an initial theory of performance failure and turnaround suited to public organizations.

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