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The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts

“In two out of three programmes NESTA has done well to generate applications and it deserves credit for setting up sound systems for selecting and managing its projects. However, NESTA does need to achieve a more equitable regional distribution of funds, to broaden the reach of the Fellowship Programme, and to improve measurement of its own operational efficiency.

“There are also important lessons to be learned about funding public bodies through an endowment, particularly the management of risks associated with interest rate changes and the endowment declining in real terms.”

Published:
25 Feb 2004

Making a Difference: Performance of Maintained Secondary Schools in England

“Measuring and comparing the performance of schools are vital to the task of improving the education of our children. The Department and Ofsted are now able to take into account the influence of external factors in order to analyse the difference that schools make to the academic achievements of their pupils. This provides a more robust and objective assessment of the relative performance of schools, and gives policy makers a firmer basis for targeting their efforts on those schools most in need of support.”

Published:
28 Nov 2003

Transforming performance of HM Customs and Excise through electronic service delivery

“Customs and Excise have made good progress in getting their electronic service delivery programme underway. The programme is, however, at the early stage of its development and there is a long way to go to translate the strategy and plans into performance improvements on the ground. An IT programme of this magnitude inevitably presents some large risks and our report recommends to Customs how to address these risks.”

Published:
20 Nov 2003

PPP in practice: National Savings and Investments’ deal with Siemens Business Services, four years on

“This report shows that there are alternatives to bailing out the private sector. NS&I and Siemens Business Services have learnt valuable lessons in the operation of this project, which are pertinent to other public-private sector partnerships. A whole business approach, where decisions are based on what is best for the business rather than what is best for either the public and private sectors, needs to be adopted if the public and private sectors are to achieve their objectives, and the private sector needs to recognize the management challenge that PFI represents.”

Published:
8 May 2003

Purchasing and Managing Software Licences

“Whatever a department does, whether it is processing benefit payments or protecting the public from crime, it uses computer software. Delivering good quality public services now depends on having the right IT. This report shows that many departments are being intelligent customers when it comes to software licensing. But it remains important that they have all the information that they need to make the right decisions.”

Published:
1 May 2003

Progress in Making e-services Accessible to All: Encouraging use by Older People

“Older people are major users of public services but, as a section of society, are far less likely to access those services electronically. However, these e-services are potentially a great boon to older people many of whom have mobility problems, have difficulty in gaining access to sources of information, live alone or want to remain independent and involved.

“If government is to take full advantage of the potential of technology, it must make sure its e-services are accessible to all and work to avoid a ‘digital divide’. More older people would be willing to use new technologies if they saw the benefit to them of doing so. The Office of the e-Envoy, Departments and agencies have a key role to play in publicising the benefits of e-services and providing older people with the encouragement and facilities to use them.”

Published:
20 Feb 2003

Department for Education and Skills Resource Account 2001-02

Head of the National Audit Office Sir John Bourn today reported to Parliament that fraudulent and other irregular payments made under the Individual Learning Accounts (ILA) scheme had been estimated as likely to total some £97 million. As a result he has qualified his audit opinion on the Department for Education and Skill’s Resource Account … Read more

Published:
30 Jan 2003

New IT Systems for Magistrates’ Courts: the Libra Project

“There are a number of lessons that other departments can learn from the problems that the Lord Chancellor’s Department has experienced with the Libra project. Departments should take it as a warning sign that their proposed PFI projects may not be workable if few bidders show initial interest and others withdraw as the procurement process continues. In a single tender situation, Departments need to take special care to safeguard value for money, for example by developing a should cost model to assess the reasonableness of a bid. Up to date contingency plans should be in place on all major contracts so that there is a fallback position if and when a contract goes wrong.”

Published:
29 Jan 2003