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Managing transitions in public bodies: practical guide published

The Institute for Government and Public Chairs Forum (PCF) have published a joint guide to help arm's length bodies and departments manage the transitions set out by the government on the future of public bodies, announced in October last year.

Piecing together the quango reforms – a practical guide for managing transitions (PDF, 656KB) pulls together a selection of case studies, lessons learned, and experiences from quangos that have already managed major organisational change such as:

  • the Hearing Aid Council
  • the Learning and Skills Council
  • the General Medical Council.

There are currently over 900 quangos, accounting for 13% of total government expenditure. The government announced plans to close, merge or radically reform a third of these bodies.

The guide builds on a joint seminar run by the PCF and the Institute for Government in 2010. It identifies the key components for successful transitions, based around five central themes:

  • people
  • cultural change
  • arm's length body and departmental relations
  • practical aspects
  • technical aspects.

Chair of the Public Chairs' Forum, Chris Banks CBE said:

"The reforms have created a huge amount of uncertainty - and so far, there has been little, or no support or guidance for arm's length bodies and departments from Government.

"That's why the Public Chairs' Forum and the Institute for Government have put together a joint practical guide on managing transitions for arm's length bodies and departments."

Lord Adonis, Director of the Institute for Government, said:

"This programme of closures and mergers of Arms Length Bodies will benefit from a shared pool of knowledge and a grasp of the potential pitfalls involved in rapid transitions. The work that we are doing with the Public Chairs' Forum and with this publication aims to help inform an efficient, effective and orderly transition with minimum disruption to vital services.

"It is also vital, as the Institute for Government's Read Before Burning report made clear, that a regime emerges from the current changes that will put arm's length bodies on a more stable and consistent basis in the future. For those bodies that remain in reformed or merged form, change now needs to have that longer term objective in mind.

See the Public Chairs' Forum website for a full press notice about the report.

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