Headlines: November 25th, 1999

A drive is being launched to encourage more secondments from Government to the voluntary sector. This is part of an overall strategy to foster joined up policy making and delivery.Secondments are an important element in implementing the ‘Compact on Relations Between the Government and the Voluntary Sector’ published in November 1998. There is widespread disappointment that there were only 230 secondments between the civil service and voluntary bodies in the last year. Secondments play a crucial role in the joining up process because they help both sides to build up relationships. They also lead to improved policy development and enhance the design and delivery of services. Without secondments it is difficult to fully appreciate the implications of different forms of accountability in Government and the voluntary sector and to understand the viewpoints of different stakeholders.

Although joined up working has become a priority, a secondment to a voluntary body to support the approach, is not always perceived by civil servants as the best way to further a career. The problem is not restricted to the voluntary sector and secondments between local and central government have only increased marginally.