Features: May 26th, 2006

FAME in Action

By Andrew De’ath

FAME, the Framework for Multi-Agency Environments, is a national project supported by the ODPM, which provides support to help local authorities, their intermediaries and other public sector and voluntary organisations to effectively tackle issues of joint working and information sharing, in order to improve services to communities.

What exactly is FAME?

FAME is a solution for effective multi-agency working which has developed across a partnership between Newcastle City Council, North East Centre of Excellence, North East Connects and the University of Newcastle. FAME offers a theoretical framework and a practical toolkit to support the development of successful multi-agency working, in order to provide more efficient public services which look after citizens better. It addresses complex issues of trust, security and governance across a wide range of multi-agency environments such as children’s services, health care or work with vulnerable adults.

How has North East Connects been involved in FAME?

At North East Connects, FAME is supporting our understanding and development of joined-up transformational government, across the region. As we are an evolving partnership, consisting of all 25 local authorities in the North East, we expect to hit some challenges ahead as we seek to join up more and deliver more effective and efficient services to our citizens, but FAME helps us to foresee and manage risks.

The Readiness Assessment Tool is part of the toolkit which has particularly helped us to fast track the process of building towards a successful and sustainable multi-agency environment. It is a refreshingly simple way for an emerging or established partnership to create a regional roadmap and business plan for implementing change, using a series of questions which will ensure the issues have been covered from every angle, before ‘rushing in to implement’ a solution.

What are the benefits that FAME offers to local authorities and their partners?

One of the main benefits of engaging with FAME is that it can assist local authorities in their delivery of Gershon targets by providing a cheaper, more citizen focused and efficient way of sharing information between departments and agencies.

A fully joined up infrastructure is currently a major challenge for local authorities and their partners. It is complex, and currently there are no public sector examples. Interoperable systems between neighbouring local authorities or agencies are expensive and time consuming and common components are needed for identity management, trust models, information sharing, and messaging to avoid the development of multiple unique solutions if we are to collectively respond to Gershon targets. We need to reduce operational costs, avoid duplication in procurement, and minimise risk wherever possible.

How do you see the FAME project developing nationally?

Whilst FAME has evolved in the North East, following significant interest expressed from local authorities and organisations outside of the region, the FAME project is now looking to push out these resources across the UK, in order to make the benefits of the project’s learning and experience within the field of multi-agency working more widely available.

Where is a good place to begin, in tackling issues of multi agency working?

Part of the toolkit which has proved particularly popular is the Readiness Assessment Tool available at www.fame-uk.org – it’s a great starting point. At North East Connects, we have found that it fast tracks the process of implementing change and provides a clear assessment of progress towards the building of a successful and sustainable multi-agency environment.

There is without doubt, a real urgency in this field at the moment, as people’s level of understanding of multi-agency working and information sharing is really low, and this is an effective framework which can be applied to and of use in many multi-agency environments.

Multi-agency environments should provide appropriate, human, developmental, financial and managerial assets to support both the provision of the effective technical and organisational infrastructures that are required for effective joined-up working. I believe that FAME offers a means to do this and I would encourage any local authority or public sector organisation looking to address these issues to consider how FAME can offer support.

For more information on FAME please contact:

email: enquiries@fame-uk.org

call: +44 0191 277 7595

visit: www.fame-uk.org

Andrew De’ath, is Chair of North East Connects.