Sir Andrew Foster, Controller at the Audit Commission has issued a plea to local authority officers to embrace their forthcoming CPA assessments and view the process as a willingness on the part of central government to give local government the power it needs to improve local public services.
In a keynote address to an NLGN conference – Comprehensive Performance Assessment: Strategies for Success – Sir Andrew said:
“For the first time, a Government in power is prepared to return influence and authority to the local level. It is the strongest statement of political will I’ve ever heard and a tremendous opportunity for the leadership of local government to make a real difference to public services”.
“I call upon committed public servants to drive CPA forward, be positive about it, don’t get caught in a bunker and don’t overly analyse bureaucratic elements of the assessment. To spend a lot of time on the intricacies would not be a good way of spending public money”.
The conference also heard from NLGN’s new Executive Director, Dan Corry on the nature of the CPA process:
“CPA represents a tip-toeing towards new localism and it is a vital precursor towards the centre having the confidence to loosen its grip. CPA allows an ordered letting go, starting at the top but hopefully spreading down quickly, but it is also a way of clearly identifying failure and dealing with it in a quick and effective manner”.
Meanwhile, Jo Blundell, Marketing Director at Serco Government Services – who supported the conference – outlined a model of intervention that would integrate both ‘diagnostic’ and ‘operational’ elements:
“Once the need to intervene is identified, speed and continuity are of the essence, whatever the scope of the intervention. Serco’s prior experience of working with Local Education Authorities suggests that time and effort is wasted in procuring diagnosis and delivery activities as separate packages of work. An integrated procurement package including both elements would allow the process of improvement to begin earlier and reduce the period of uncertainty for staff and end users.”
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NLGN is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.
NLGN’s conference Comprehensive Performance Assessment: Strategies for Success was held at the New Connaught Rooms, Central London on Monday 11 November. Other speakers included: Professor Steve Martin, Director of the Local & Regional Government Unit,
Cardiff Business School; Cllr. Peter Chalke, Leader, Wiltshire CC; Jack Edwards, Managing Director, Edwards Project Management Ltd.; Martin Horton, Director of Knowledge & Learning, IDeA; Barry Quirk, Chief Executive, LB Lewisham; and Marina Pirotta, Independent PR Expert and Associate Director, IDeA.