Cross-sector partnerships and collaboration,
Procurement and social value
Monthly policy briefing
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This is our monthly policy briefing for June 2021. Each week we gather all the news, commentary and events from across the sector, then tie it all together each month. If you would like to get this in your inbox each week you can sign up to Tiny Letter.
Accountability takes more than rules
Across a number of sectors and contexts, efforts to make government services work better often focus on changing the rules associated with them. Unfortunately, although legal and regulatory reform is important, it is rarely enough. In his regular blog, this month GO Lab Executive Director Nigel Ball reflected on the need to build a culture of transparency in public procurement to avoid impropriety as the UK seeks to develop its post-Brexit procurement policy. Reflecting on the strong existing procurement regulations, he highlights a number of recent controversies involving current and former Government ministers, showing strong rules are not enough – the way individuals approach and interpret those rules is also vital.
In a different context, the Institute for Government released a report into the UK Government’s use of targets to improve public services. Rather than finding that targets uniformly help or hinder services, the report suggests that they can do both, depending on how they are implemented. Focusing on national targets set by the UK Government in two policy areas (health and education), the report found that while targets do improve what was targeted, some of this is due to gaming, and that while they improve minimum standards, targets fail to drive excellence. It goes on to examine some of the ways in which targets impact services, and makes a series of recommendations for the use of targets by government.
Improving the way government works is not straightforward, and although reforming the requirements placed on public services can be a powerful tool to achieve better outcomes, how those rules and targets are acted upon in practice will ultimately determine their impact.
And SSIR published A Swimmer’s Guide to Network Cooperation, which explores the differences in characteristics between alignment networks (with limited interaction between members) and co-labour networks (with close working collaboration between organisations). The authors consider how the nature of a particular organisational network can inform the approaches taken by facilitators and funders to best manage, support, and sustain these networks.