Posted tagged ‘accountability’

Accountability and #localgov leadership

December 1, 2011

Playing the blame game?

After a busy few days inside and outside of WLLG Towers we thought it would be a perfect time to share a thought provoking guest post from Jessica Crowe (@CfPScrutiny) of Centre for Public Scrutiny fame.  The past few weeks has shown us the importance of both leadership across the public sector and the importance of accountability, so Jessica’s post is both timely and interesting.  If you’ve got a subject you’d like to write about you can send it to us at welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com or tweet us about it @welovelocalgov, otherwise get yourself a cuppa and scroll down for more.

Three things last week made me think yet again how we need a better understanding of what accountability means for leaders in local government these days. Firstly I attended an excellent lecture given by Sir Michael Lyons (remember the Lyons report…?) to mark the 45th anniversary of the Institute of Local Government Studies (@INLOGOV) at the University of Birmingham. This was followed by the distinguished panel of Baroness Onora O’Neill, Catherine Staite, the new Director of INLOGOV, and Derek Myers (@ChairSolace), Chief Executive of Kensington and Chelsea. Sir Michael’s lecture set out what ought to constitute ‘fit for purpose’ leadership in public services for the future.

The following night, with my nerd hat firmly on, I took part in a roundtable hosted by accountants Grant Thornton to discuss their new research analysing what council accounts and Annual Governance Statements tell us about the state of corporate governance in local government. And in between these two thoughtful events I read a ridiculously simplistic rant in the MJ from a former local government public relations officer, arguing that the bean-counters of the “accountability industry” should back off and just let the professionals get on with delivering services.

The INLOGOV evening came up with some elegant lists of three as maxims for better public service leadership (“do less; do it well; do it together” from Sir Michael; “honesty, competence and reliability” – Onora O’Neill; “aggregate where you can; localise where you should; innovate everywhere” – Derek Myers). In emulation, here are three conclusions drawn from these three experiences: a plea for more understanding of what public accountability is and why it is both helpful to and a special responsibility of leaders in local government. (more…)

I agree with Eric

February 28, 2011

I'm as shocked as you are

Hold onto your seats and don’t adjust your screens, I am about to say words I didn’t ever expect to say.

I agree with Eric Pickles.

Not generally of course, but recently he has decided to attack local government in a new (and seemingly random as ever) way, this time under the mantle of transparency and openness.  Yes, the Pickleator has written to local government and told them that bloggers should have the same rights as the accredited press.

So that I don’t misquote him, here is the message he sent out:

Fifty years ago, Margaret Thatcher changed the law to make councils open their meetings to the press and public. This principle of openness needs to be updated for the 21st Century. More and more local news comes from bloggers or citizen journalists telling us what is happening at their local council.  Many councils are internet-savvy and stream meetings online, but some don’t seem to have caught up with the times and are refusing to let bloggers or hyper-local news sites in. With local authorities in the process of setting next year’s budget this is more important than ever. (more…)

In Defence of Performance Figures

October 27, 2010

 

LG Worker to the rescue

 

I recently wrote a post trashing performance indicators: LG Worker responded in the comments section and so I invited him/her to write a post in defence of performance indicators… And, as if by magic: here it is!

When I first joined Local Government, several Authorities and several years ago, I had a 1 to 1 with a Colleague I saw more as a mentor.  As we sat in the local pub (after work I hasten to add), he turned to me and said, ‘Young Padawan, to progress your career, you should get some Performance Management experience.’  This statement was geeky in two ways.  The first was the reference to Star Wars, as far as I knew I was not a Jedi who had ‘the Force.’   The second was the reference to Performance.

As I was relatively new to Local Government and really to the world of work, I had no real understanding of what Performance was.  The title gave clues but not the full picture.  Anyway, soon after I found myself in the Council’s Performance Team.  Within six months of being there, I could not see the point of my work (how did it connected with the residents?) and had badly messed up a big project.  As this project crashed around me, I decided I needed to take a break and reassess my options.

In the long weekend I took, instead of deciding to give Performance up, I had an epiphany and saw not only how important Performance is but also how it linked back to our ultimate bosses, the residents.  In this period were Performance Indicators are being thrown out (I hear the usual bloggers of this site cheering), I want to defend them and show you why they are a tool we should be holding on to.

Their defence is provided by the four things they help provide; monitoring, accountability, benchmarking and partnership.

(more…)