Central government has been slow to follow the example of the successful beacon schemes operated by local councils, NHS trusts and the police. When the selected organisations open their doors for peer group visits in February 2000 it will be almost two years since the commitment to do so appeared in the Modernising Government White Paper published in March 1999.Beacons established in other areas of public service have demonstrated that new strategic thinking, good practice and innovation can be shared effectively with colleagues facing similar challenges. In addition to site visits, the achievements of the beacons are shared through secondments, workshops, focus groups, production of case study material and general networking.
Beacons status has been awarded to 23 central departments, such as Inland Revenue and agencies such as Employment Service, where a queue busting scheme has transformed customer contact, eliminated queues, motivated staff and increased performance in terms of job placements. The scheme is now being adopted nationally.
The beacons were selected from Charter Mark holders, high scoring users of the European Federation for Quality Management Model and holders of Investors in People Accreditation.
The criteria for awarding beacon status included a willingness to share ideas, joined up working, diversity, people issues, IT and e-commerce.