Modernising Government

Executive summary

Modernising government is central to the Government's programme of renewal and reform.

In line with the Government's overall programme of modernisation, Modernising Government is modernisation for a purpose to make life better for people and businesses.

Modernising Government is a long-term programme of improvement.

But the Government is putting forward a new package of reforms now:

  • A commitment to ensure that public services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week where there is a demand, for example by the end of 2000 everyone being able to phone NHS Direct at any time for healthcare advice.

  • Joined-up government in action including a clear commitment for people to be able to notify different parts of government of details such as a change of address simply and electronically in one transaction.

  • A new drive to remove unnecessary regulation, and a requirement on Departments preparing policies which impose new regulatory burdens to submit high quality Regulatory Impact Assessments and to consult the Cabinet Office in advance.

  • A new target of all dealings with government being deliverable electronically by 2008.

  • New 'Learning Labs' to encourage new ways of front-line working by suspending rules that stifle innovation.

  • Taking a more creative approach to financial and other incentives for public service staff, including a commitment to explore the scope for financial reward for staff who identify financial savings or service improvements.

  • Within Whitehall, a new focus on delivery - asking every Permanent Secretary to ensure that their Department has the capacity to drive through achievement of the key government targets and to take a personal responsibility for ensuring that this happens. Bringing more people in from outside and bringing able, younger people up the ladder more quickly.

To ensure that government is both inclusive and integrated, we have three aims in modernising government:

  • Ensuring that policy making is more joined up and strategic.

  • Making sure that public service users, not providers, are the focus, by matching services more closely to people's lives.

  • Delivering public services that are high quality and efficient.

We are centring our programme on five key commitments:

  • Policy making: we will be forward looking in developing policies to deliver outcomes that matter, not simply reacting to short-term pressures. We will:

    - identify and spread best practice through the new Centre for Management and Policy Studies.

    - bring in joint training of Ministers and civil servants.

    - introduce peer review of Departments.

  • Responsive public services: we will deliver public services to meet the needs of citizens, not the convenience of service providers. We will:

    - deliver a big push on obstacles to joined-up working, through local partnerships, one-stop shops, and other means.

    - involve and meet the needs of all different groups in society.

  • Quality public services: we will deliver efficient, high quality public services and will not tolerate mediocrity. We will:

    - review all central and local government department services and activities over the next five years to identify the best supplier in each case.

    - set new targets for all public bodies, focusing on real improvements in the quality and effectiveness of public services.

    - monitor performance closely so that we strike the right balance between intervening where services are failing and giving successful organisations the freedom to manage.

  • Information age government: we will use new technology to meet the needs of citizens and business, and not trail behind technological developments. We will:

    - develop an IT strategy for Government which will establish cross-government co-ordination machinery and frameworks on such issues as use of digital signatures and smart cards, websites and call centres.

    - benchmark progress against targets for electronic services.

  • Public service: we will value public service, not denigrate it. We will:

    - modernise the civil service, revise performance management arrangements, tackle under-representation of women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities and build the capability for innovation.

    - establish a public sector employment forum to bring together and develop key players across the public sector.

This long-term programme of modernisation for a purpose will move us towards our central objective in modernising government:

Better government to make life better for people.

Marks projects and initiatives where further information is available on the internet. The websites addresses are listed in the Appendix


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Prepared 30 March 1999