General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: The Building Schools for the Future programme aims to rebuild, refurbish and provide new Information Technology for all 3,500 secondary schools in England by 2020. A report by the National Audit Office has found that the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) underestimated how long it would take to launch the programme & build the schools, though the speed of delivery has compared well with previous school building programmes.
78% Local Authorities and 86% of companies involved in the BSF programme believe that it is leading to more strategic procurement of school infrastructure than previous school building programmes. BSF schools are built to higher specifications & space standards than previous schools; though until post occupancy reviews take place a year after each opens it will be too early to say whether they will meet user expectations.
To include all schools in the programme, 250 schools will need to be built a year and the number of schools in procurement & construction at any one time will need to double from 2011 onwards. The extent to which problems in the finance markets will affect BSF is still unclear.
Press release ~ The Building Schools for the Future Programme: renewing the secondary school estate ~ Building Schools for the Future programme ~ Partnerships for Schools ~ National Framework for Sustainable Schools ~ ‘Sustainable Schools’ programme
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported that the processes used by central government to recruit civil servants do not fully deliver value for money. Departments are working to understand & improve parts of the external recruitment process, but more can be done.
In 2007-08, central government recruited more than 40,000 new staff, with 78% for positions at junior grades in a diverse range of areas such as job centres, courts, prisons, airports and tax offices across the UK. The NAO’s analysis of how six organizations recruit identifies three common issues, the:
* costs of staff used in the recruitment process are too high
* length of the recruitment process is too long
* quality of the recruitment process needs to be improved
Within central government, it can typically take 16 weeks to recruit a new member of staff. Time could be saved by better anticipating recruitment demands, using resources more effectively and, where possible, standardizing the process.
CRC: Nicola Lloyd, the Commission for Rural Communities’ Director of Analysis, has written about what the future might hold for rural transport in the latest issue of the Social Research Association's e-bulletin. The article draws on the CRC’s recent transport ‘thinkpieces’.
Press release ~ Nicola's article ~ CRC work on rural transport and transport thinkpieces ~ Social Research Association
ScotGov: Five things are 'badly wrong' at Aberdeen prison; and there is very little that the prison can do to make them better, according to the latest report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons. The report also highlights that the conditions at Aberdeen Sheriff Court are 'unacceptable'.
However, the report also points out that prisoners feel safe, all prisoners have access to very good learning opportunities (including those on remand) and healthcare is good.
HA: The Highways Agency and The Caravan Club have joined forces to work more closely together to make travel on England's motorways and other major roads safer and easier. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed recently by Graham Dalton, Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, and Trevor Watson, Director General of The Caravan Club.
The MoU establishes a Highways Agency account manager to provide a direct link with The Caravan Club, so both sides can communicate more effectively on a range of issues and share skills & knowledge on areas of mutual interest.
Press release ~ The Caravan Club ~ Fit to Tow? information package for trailer, caravan and horsebox drivers
Socitm: The impact of cloud computing - the use of web resources to provide facilities & services hosted elsewhere on the internet – could have an even more revolutionary impact on public sector ICT than the advent of the PC in the 1980s. This prediction comes in Cloud computing on the horizon, the latest of a monthly series of briefings on topical issues written & published by the Society of IT Management (Socitm) for ICT managers.
The briefing sets out the potential benefits of ‘the cloud’ for public services, including flexibility & lower costs, particularly as the burden of acquiring & maintaining server infrastructure and data centres can be shifted outside the organisation. However, the briefing warns that the agility cloud computing offers for exploiting information brings with it security and business continuity risks that public sector ICT managers may find difficult to live with.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has launched the first digital map of the Capital’s road speed limits to help drivers keep their driving within the law. This map (downloadable for free), once integrated into any SatNav or Global Positioning System (GPS), will be able to display the current, accurate speed limit to a driver and alert them if they exceed the legal speed limit.
GPS device manufacturers are being encouraged to take full advantage of this resource which will help to improve road safety in the capital. It is estimated that if everyone used the digital speed map, the number of road collisions could be reduced by 10%.