Headlines: October 17th, 2001

Top managers in local government are getting to grips with how technology can effect real change in how they deliver local services.The annual conference of SOLACE, the society for chief executives and senior managers of local councils, focuses this year on e-government, and is being held for the first time in partnership with the private sector.

Rather than at a hotel or traditional conference centre, the conference is at BT’s advanced research and development base in Ipswich.

SOLACE President James Hehir said: ‘E-government is bigger than anything any of us has experienced before. E-government will work only if we change the way we do business – and it’s the role of the chief executive to lead change. But the conference is not about technology, it’s about culture and changing the way we think and work. The impact of technology will be very limited if we are not prepared to change in this way.’

Three Government ministers will speak at the conference – Richard Caborn, Nick Raynsford and Barbara Roche. Also speaking will be former council chief executive Wendy Thomson, who is now Head of the Office of Public Service Reform.

The new unit will be concerned with the structures, systems, skills and incentives for delivering results across the entire public sector. The unit will be based in the Cabinet Office and report direct to the Prime Minister.

Key SOLACE conference days are today (Wednesday) and tomorrow.