An official advisory body began consultation on data sharing between public bodies. The consultation would examine whether the law erected barriers that unduly restricted data sharing; whether the law was too complex and hard to understand; and whether there was a simply a gap in education, guidance, and advice.
Source: Data Sharing between Public Bodies: A consultation paper, LC214, Law Commission
Links: Consultation document
An article examined the hypothesis that bureaucratic capacity had a positive effect on programmes that involved bureaucratic discretion, but had weak or no effects on programmes that were more straightforward to implement. It considered public spending on active labour market programmes (which involved a lot of discretion) and parental leave benefits (which involved less discretion) in 20 advanced democracies from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. High bureaucratic capacity was found to have a positive effect on active labour market policy spending, but not on parental leave benefits.
Source: Carl Dahlstrom, Johannes Lindvall, and Bo Rothstein, 'Corruption, bureaucratic failure and social policy priorities', Political Studies, Volume 61 Issue 3
The first in a new series of annual reports said that inconsistencies and gaps in public information on how central government departments performed made it impossible to assess their overall effectiveness.
Source: Justine Stephen, Petr Bouchal, and David Bull, Whitehall Monitor 2013: Annual commentary and analysis on the size, shape and performance of Whitehall, Institute for Government
An audit report said that there were signs of improvement in financial management within central government. But further improvements would be needed to support sustainable public service delivery with fewer resources in the longer term. The government was 'a long way' from ensuring that decision-making was routinely based on robust information. Departments often did not integrate financial management with their strategic and operational planning. An absence of planning prevented departments from achieving the best results by linking resources and outcomes.
Source: Financial Management in Government, HC 131 (Session 2013-14), National Audit Office, TSO
An article examined the notion that the process of measuring the performance of voluntary sector public service providers had the potential to improve the quality of public services. It said that performance measurement was primarily being used to demonstrate compliance, and not as a tool for service improvement.
Source: Claire Moxham, 'Measuring up: examining the potential for voluntary sector performance measurement to improve public service delivery', Public Money and Management, Volume 33 Issue 3
A report examined the role of complaints in transforming public services. Complaints could provide important insights into where there was need for improvement or an opportunity for innovation. Advances in information and communication technologies meant that making and receiving complaints was becoming more and more commonplace.
Source: Richard Simmons and Carol Brennan, Grumbles, Gripes and Grievances: The role of complaints in transforming public services, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts
A think-tank report said that financial leadership by central government remained weak and fragmented, rather than playing a major role in central decision-making and performance management.
Source: Petr Bouchal and Julian McCrae, Financial Leadership for Government, Institute for Government
A think-tank report examined civil service reform, based on interviews with ministers in the coalition government, ministers in the previous administration, existing non-executive directors, existing and former officials, and special advisers. The interviews identified three structural causes of the inadequate performance of Whitehall departments: a style of employment and career planning that rotated people between roles too frequently; a failure to act on performance, whether to penalize poor performance or reward the good; and an absence of will and experience on the part of ministers to drive change in Whitehall.
Source: Andrew Haldenby, Tara Majumdar, and Greg Rosen, Whitehall Reform: The view from the inside, Reform
A new book examined organizational productivity in central government agencies. It analyzed taxation, social security, and regulatory agencies, and explored the role of information technology and management changes in National Health Service hospitals. Productivity growth in public services was closely linked to information technology modernization, allied with business process reorganization.
Source: Patrick Dunleavy and Leandro Carrera, Growing the Productivity of Government Services, Edward Elgar Publishing
An article examined scrutiny processes in three national audit bodies, three service inspectorates, and two inquiry committees. Judgement processes were analyzed along five dimensions: intuitive to analytical thinking; implicit to explicit assessment criteria; inductive and deductive methods; internal and external validity; and the principles used to make and evaluate judgements. These processes varied considerably, suggesting the need for a broader conception of the nature of and influences on scrutiny processes one that recognized the inherent tensions in these processes, and the skills required by those who engaged in them.
Source: Sandra Nutley, Ruth Levitt, William Solesbury, and Steve Martin, 'Scrutinizing performance: how assessors reach judgements about public services', Public Administration, Volume 90 Issue 4