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The British Council: Achieving Impact

“The British Council’s work is valued by its customers and stakeholders. It faces a difficult challenge in delivering a wide range of products and services in 110 countries worldwide. High performance in some areas such as performance measurement and customer satisfaction needs to expand across every strand of activity. Project and programme management need to be strengthened and customer relationship systems and service standards enhanced.”

Published:
11 Jun 2008

The British Library – Providing services beyond the Reading Rooms

” The Library is providing an important range of services beyond its reading rooms, which are generally of a high quality. It deserves much credit for responding well to the increased competition to its document supply services and for the other improvements it is making to its remote services.

Digitisation has proved to be popular. For example, it gives us the opportunity to virtually “turn” the pages of manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels. It is important that the Library and other organisations collaborate to exploit fully the great opportunities for providing materials of relevance to a wide range of users. In addition the Library needs to take care to ensure that access to digitised material can be sustained beyond the short to medium term.”

Published:
28 Jul 2004

The budget for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

“The Olympic Games is now on a firmer financial footing thanks to the budget announced in March 2007. This should help all those involved in delivering the Games to move forward with greater confidence.

“However a budget is just that – a budget not a target. The Department must still work to contain funding and achieve value for money, and should make clear what will be delivered for the public’s money. There will be a need for clear and quick decision making on funding, effective commercial arrangements with suppliers, and finalisation of designs and legacy plans.”

The report makes recommendations to manage risk in relation to the budget. Those which require immediate action are:

Published:
20 Jul 2007

The Building Schools for the Future Programme: Renewing the secondary school estate

“Building Schools for the Future is a highly ambitious £55 billion programme. Converting that ambition to reality requires robust planning, close cost control and making a success of complex long-term partnerships. Partnerships for Schools and the Department were too optimistic in their early plans though programme management has since improved. But it remains a real challenge, in difficult market conditions, to deliver the 250 schools a year that will be needed, to include all schools by 2020 as currently planned.”

Published:
12 Feb 2009

The Cancellation of the Benefits Payment Card project

“There may be a temptation to think that the Payment Card project failed solely because it was large and complex or because it was a pioneer PFI project. This was not the case. Various factors contributed to the project’s failure and their effects are difficult to disentangle. Important reasons were divided control, insufficient time for specifying the requirement and piloting, and that a shared, open approach to risk management was not achieved.”

Our examination found that:

The report highlights key lessons on risk management, the procurement of complex IT systems, and procurement by more than one purchaser, including:

In March 2000 the Treasury PFI taskforce issued new guidance on PFI contracts for Information Technology. In May 2000 the Cabinet Office published recommendations for improving the way in which the government approaches and manages major Information Technology projects. Had this guidance existed and been applied in the case of this project, it may have substantially reduced the risk of it failing, or alternatively have led to the project not proceeding in the way it did.

Published:
18 Aug 2000

The Carbon Trust: accelerating the move to a low carbon economy

“Climate change presents very serious global risks. The Carbon Trust has done a good job at persuading businesses and public sector organisations to start tackling the problem and its work to date has proved value for money. Its achievement in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in 2006-07 by up to two million tonnes is commendable, but it is a small one in view of the scale of the challenge ahead. The Carbon Trust needs to build on its good work and extend its drive to encourage business leaders to review the carbon footprint of their organisation and to take decisive action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

Published:
22 Nov 2007