A politically charged, but interesting read.
Archive for category Efficiencies and Savings
The Westminster government publishes a report exposing how government is ripped off by IT suppliers. The report isn’t too long and is worth a read.
One perceived failing identified is over-specifying projects leading to lack of innovative solutions. This can be true – the report touches on the belief among many SMEs that there is a culture of “get it done” rather than “get it right”.
Point taken, however I’m not so sure this is quite the attitude in the local government scene where things have been changing significantly and there is a greater understanding that having local and inhouse IT expertise allows innovation while making sure supplier solutions are evaluated in terms of long-term costs and implications. Allowing suppliers to innovate without proper scrutiny would open up the possibility that inappropriate and costly solutions could be implemented: feature-creep (and module-creep and licence-cost-creep) could be more likely.
Also advocated is Agile development methods (I think this is more of a cultural thing than a methodology); open standards; open data; and personal data ownership.
Councils Should Always Retain Inhouse Expertise To Reduce Outsourcing Risks And Adopt A Strategic Approach
eGov Monitor reports:
Outsourcing is good and delivers economies of scale however the process is a major commitment and a path filled with risks, according to a latest briefing from Scotim Insight.
The “Costs of Outsourcing – uncovering the real risks” presents a detailed analysis of the outsourcing process and the risks it brings to local authorities.
According to the document, the risks begin at the tender stage. The supplier is well versed in contract negotiations on outsourcing while a smaller local authority is rarely going to be in that position. So, the briefing suggests that councils seek professional advice around framing and negotiating a contract.
It also urges councils not to put all their eggs in one basket. Rather than transferring all ICT operations as a bundle to one supplier, it is best to break them into components and go to market individually…..
Meanwhile the Chief Executive of Suffolk council is on extended leave, reports the Guardian, after her promotion of an outsourcing of services agenda hits difficulties: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/05/suffolk-county-council-andrea-hill?CMP=twt_iph
A summary of the Government’s plans and ambitions for the digital economy, published on 22 October 2010
See also: http://royhair.com/blog/2010/10/28/radical-scotland-report/
This paper is an independent analysis of the economic and social challenges facing Scotland’s public services, and how the radical reform of services through innovation could help to meet some of these challenges.
It argues that innovation – developing new approaches that are better at preventing and solving problems for and with citizens – is critical to making sustainable savings in public services and to ensuring a stronger, safer, healthier and more productive Scotland.
Laura Bunt and Michael Harris, with Ruth Puttick
See also: http://royhair.com/blog/2010/10/28/a-digital-ambition-for-scotland/
The strategy of portfolio consolidation based on disposal and renewal through new building investment is being severely tested in the current economic climate where disposal proceeds have receded along with cheap financing and revenue streams. Therefore strategy is now focussed on “squeezing the portfolio”, optimising what exists or cannot be exited, including subletting to the market, to outsourced suppliers or to charities, “mothballing” or de-servicing space (even demolition). There is also an increasing and irresistible movement within the public sector towards sharing space and resources through initiatives like Total Place.
Sweden faced a similar crisis of public finances in the 1990′s. In this promising but ultimately vapid debate, Steven Akerby tells of their solution – initially slicing 5% across the board from local govt finances and the outcome affecting the care of elderly people. Childcare was also affected – e.g. class sizes increased – although there was debate about protecting the most vulnerable.
It’s pretty depressing that even the Scandanavians could not think of some creative yet simple and sensible approach to the problem.
Or maybe they did.
Jon Harvey (johnharveyassociates) in the Efficiency Exchange has collated over 300 ideas for change from many sources including many council officers. This consists of a pdf extract of his blog (http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/ )
The most useful ideas include:
- Peterborough’s Transformation programme
- Systems Thinking (Vanguard method)
- Birmingham City Council’s in-house change
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The demands on councils, both in terms of the efficiency drive and changing nature of
local government, means specialist transformational skills are essential. Birmingham City
Council is managing change by developing an in-house consultancy service. This is
supporting staff to find and train for new positions where roles become obsolete.
Key learnings for other councils
• Communication is essential – use all appropriate means to explain to staff what is
• Support departments that are losing valuable members of staff to the change
• Challenge traditional practice – ambition and imagination are essential.
• Make your in-house services accessible – internal web pages and dedicated project
officers are important
There is more about this great initiative at:
• Glen Knott, Senior HR Practitioner
• Birmingham City Council
• telephone: 0121 303 2433
• email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thurrock Council defines performance management as “Taking positive action in recognition of actual levels of performance to achieve outcomes that are better than they would otherwise be.” Therefore performance management is the process we go through when we set strategy and devise the governance, values, processes and controls to direct people and money to deliver our objectives in a cost effective way with due regard to risk and opportunities.
The council has established a performance management framework together with a number of how to guides and question and answer documents to help its managers deliver the council’s ambitions.
See also Thurrock PF Guidance (PDF): Thurrock perf_how_06_vfm_v1
This just seems to be the same type of technology that we use for our remote access tokens. The only possible difference might be that they are combining it with wireless access dongles so people can access the network from their laptops anywhere.
It’s promoting a technology solution but the other HR / H&S issues etc have still to be addressed.
This video looks at how Hampshire County Council has worked with Juniper Networks to implement a secure remote access solution called Hanstnet Passport. The passport system has reduced the need for travel and substantially saved on office space by enabling staff to work from home and multiple office locations.
Click here to view the video on the localgov.tv site: http://www.localgov.tv/HampshireCC
Working with Juniper Networks has also enabled the council to safeguard sensitive data stored on shared networks thereby improving collaboration with external partners without compromising security.
From the Guardian:
Huge savings of more than £20bn can be made in the cost of local services by looking at spending on all the local public services in an area, and not just council spending, the communities secretary, John Denham, claims.
His startling claim came after he digested reports at the weekend on 13 pilot schemes entitled Total Place that have looked at ending duplication and new ways of co-ordinating the provision of services.
The pilots, launched last July, appeared to have drawn enthusiastic support from politicians, councillors and public sector workers of all political persuasions.
Denham said better asset management alone could save £20bn over 10 years: “An average saving of around 5-6% just through better use of assets across the pilot suggests that this could potentially save in the region of £20bn nationally.”
He said: “Total Place is helping identify where blockages exist which prevent change across the board, overcoming the long-standing professional, cultural and funding barriers which have historically proved a big stumbling block to reform.
“It means a much more open debate about the best way to provide services locally.
“Rather than services protecting their own territory and budgets, it means switching resources between different providers. This cuts out duplication, waste and bureaucracy, saving professionals’ time and services’ money – running into millions of pounds – which can be reinvested.
“But it also improves people’s experience, so they get a genuinely seamless service.”
With local government finances likely to be under intense pressure over the next few years, it will be a test for Denham to see how much of the savings can be retained by local government rather than swallowed up by the Treasury.
Each pilot has been a mapping exercise working out total public spending in a specific area, such as children’s health, alcohol or crime. Examples include:
• Central Bedfordshire and Luton found just 2% of offenders cause nearly 30% of all crime locally and it costs about £500,000 a year for each persistent and prolific offender. The cost of local crime was £147m. The pilot found that benefits, prison, housing and probation services did not co-ordinate their help after offenders were released from jail. The pilot also found there were 52 different benefits available like housing benefit or job seekers allowance and it took three weeks to process a new claimant. Many offenders claimed they were forced to re-offend.
• Birmingham city council found children in care – who make up 2% of the city’s child population – cost £35m a year while each of Birmingham’s 6,400 crack addicts costs £833,000 in wider “social costs” over their lifetime. The city’s total annual budget is £7.5bn.
• Kent county council estimated a third of the current total cost of administering an unemployment claim could be saved by simplifying the system.
• Leicester city council found it spent £4.9m on alcohol interventions, and £13.4m on combating drug misuse, even though alcohol was a larger cause of crime.
There is an outstanding Council Tax and Rent debt. It costs the council to chase this debt.
An alternative may be to offer a cash lottery – effectively a rebate – for frequent payers. Anyone who pays in a given month (or else just by DD) would be entered into the draw. The cash sum would have to be significant but not so large as to remove the aditional revenue generated.
City of Edinburgh council have announced they are doing this for DD payers only. I think their problem might be that winning a year’s free CTax will not be an incentive to non-payers! It would be better to term it a cash prize instead.
From the Edinburgh website:Â
Win One Year’s Free Council Tax!
Â Five lucky winners will win one year’s Council Tax for free in a very special competition.
All customers who sign up to pay their annual bill by direct debit will be entered into the exciting prize draw – which will take the burden out of paying the bill for a whole year.
There is still time to be in with a chance of winning this exclusive prize as all customers signed up before 31 May will be entered into the draw for free.
Councillor Phil Wheeler, Finance and Resources Convenor, said: “With everyone leading busier lives nowadays, paying council tax by direct debit definitely saves time and effort. It is convenient too as payments can be spread over 10 or 12 months. I would like to wish all the entries in the prize draw good luck in winning this exciting and valuable prize.”
More and more people seem to be signing up to pay by direct debit every year as it is both safe and flexible. Customers can also choose from 4 payment dates in a month.
The Council stopped accepting cash and cheque for Council Tax at the start of the 2010/11 financial year. By receiving customer’s payments by direct debit, the Council can improve the service we provide as less time and money is spent processing payments.
For further information and to set up a direct debit log on to: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/counciltax or call: 0131 469 5000.
Lambeth council to offer Council Tax rebates to citizens who help run services.
The Labour-run “co-operative council” is trialling the idea which may be an election pledge for Labour at the next election. They are calling it a “John Lewis” council.
Lambeth has set up a citizens’ commission to consult residents over what services could be delivered collaboratively, and how those involved could receive an “active citizen’s dividend”, possibly a council tax rebate.
The council has launched a wiki website, on the model of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, where officials and residents can jointly write and edit policy ideas, which within hours gained its first contributors. Ideas are also being sought via Twitter and Facebook.
From the Guardian:
A key impetus to the new model was the prospect of swingeing funding cuts, said the council leader, Steve Reed, which left Lambeth â€“ one of the UK’s most deprived areas â€“ facing unpalatable options including reduced services or council tax rises. Earlier co-operative ventures such as tenant-managed housing estates and the transformation of a crumbling former comprehensive school into a community-run sport and culture centre showed there was another option, he said.
“What we hope is that this can actually produce more effective services for less cost. It’s not a universal panacea, but it’s a model we already know works. We don’t have all the answers, which is why we’re asking all these questions. But we do have an idea of the basic principles.”