HO: Protecting soft targets from terrorists – The government has announced an extra £5m to protect the public from the threat of terrorist attacks in crowded places. The funding comes as a consultation (closes on 10 July 2009) is published on how local authorities, businesses, the police & communities can work together to better secure the places where we live, work and play.
New guidance will help local partners understand their roles and the practical difference they can make to reduce the vulnerability of public areas like pubs, clubs, shopping centres, sports stadia and schools. They will be able to prioritise their work based on advice from police Counter Terrorism Security Advisers (CTSAs) who are carrying out a standardised risk assessment of crowded places across the country.
Sector-specific guidance is available from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) website. Building on their existing work, NaCTSO and Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSA) have already produced & distributed detailed protective security advice to more than 500 sports stadia, 600 shopping centres and 10,000 city & town centre bars, pubs & nightclubs.
Defra: Will £10m bee enough given their importance to the food chain? - Up to £10m is to be spent to help to identify the main threats to bees and other insect pollinators. Pollinators - including honey & bumble bees, butterflies & moths - play an essential role growing food through the pollination of many vital crops.
These insects are susceptible to a variety of disease and environmental threats, some of which have increased significantly over the last 5 to 10 years. Climate change, in particular warmer winters and wetter summers, has had a major impact on pollinators. As a result, their numbers have been declining steadily in recent years, with the number of bees in the UK alone falling by between 10 & 15% over the last 2 years.
The funding will be made available to research teams across the UK under the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership. This is a joint initiative from the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Wellcome Trust and ScotGov.
HM Treasury: When does a ‘saving’ become a ‘cut’? - The findings of the Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP), a year-long programme examining operational spending in the public sector, have been published. The 5 senior external advisors have identified a total of £15bn annual ‘savings’ from back office operations & IT, collaborative procurement, asset management & sales, property and local incentives & empowerment.
Their assessment is that around £6bn of these will be delivered as part of the current spending review period, contributing to the £35bn efficiency target, with the rest being delivered by the end of the next spending period.
The PCS union condemned the plans, claiming that they will result in the Land Registry being cut by a half, at a cost of 4,000 jobs, and to open it up to privatisation through market testing. The union went on to accuse the government of preparing to sell off the family silver with its plans for the Royal Mint.
The PCS also claims that plans detailed in a Treasury report also opened the way to outsourcing & sell offs in other areas, such as the Defence Storage & Distribution Agency (DSDA), the Met Office and Ordnance Survey.
ScotGov: Providing a decent start in life - New laws to improve stability for young people in care and minimise upheaval as they grow up have been unveiled by the Scottish Government. The measures are intended to lead to better long-term planning by councils for children in care to ensure both their immediate & future needs are fully considered.
The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 Regulations and Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 are intended to:
* provide children in care with more certainty & stability about their long-term future with a new family through the introduction of Permanence Orders
* ensure the network of wider family & friends is considered first for care placements
* improve the planning & reviewing of care arrangements to help reduce the number of different homes that children are placed in and ensure appropriate family support if the young person is to return to their parents
The Act will also remove the restriction on same sex couples adopting, bringing the law into line with existing practice. Currently only one partner of a same-sex couple who are living together can adopt.
In September 2008, ScotGov published - These Are Our Bairns - the which set out the role & responsibilities of everyone who are responsible for our looked after children. Guidance to help local authorities and other agencies implement the new regulations is being developed by BAAF & TFN. Permanence Orders will replace a number of existing court orders which councils can apply for, allowing greater flexibility.
Industry News: Why programmes are perceived to succeed or fail - In an article, taken from a recent British Computer Society (BCS) Thought Leadership debate, the UK’s industry body for IT professionals examines the differences between public & private sector procurement and looks into why programmes are perceived to succeed or fail.
Points coming out of the debate included:
* the observation that the UK has the best 'best practice' advice in the world in the shape of project & service management techniques such as Prince and ITIL (in fact many of the big international companies use them), but that we don't always use the good advice ourselves.
* The procurement process may not be fully fit-for-purpose. Competitive tendering works best for clear, achievable requirements and for products & services that are well understood. IT systems are often immensely complex and the customer's understanding of what is being offered is generally much more limited than with 'tangible' purchases.
* There is often insufficient focus on reality. Both parties need to be more honest with each other about what can be done and within what timescale. The supplier need to promise only what they can realistically deliver and, to do this, a greater degree of professionalism within the industry is needed. Some suppliers state that they can do things they later find out they cannot do, hence cannot meet their commitments. The answer is to benchmark suppliers against one another for comparison purposes.
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