EXCLUSIVE by Paul Nelson
Local council HR body Socpo is opening up membership to central government personnel professionals in an effort to increase HR's voice in public sector modernisation.
Mary Mallett, set to become Socpo president next week, told Personnel Today that the move is critical if Socpo is to have a voice during the public service reforms.
Socpo has been invited to sit on the Public Service Employers' Forum and it wants to take maximum advantage by championing the importance of HR issues in service reform - including staff morale, performance management and organisational development.
Discussions between Socpo and senior civil service HR professionals have begun and Mallett - strategic director (organ-isation and development) at Kent County Council - expects a firm proposal within the year.
Central government has no HR body, but Mallett believes the issues affecting both sectors are so similar, Socpo can represent both.
"We have so much in common due to the modernisation agenda. We are both delivering public services that are often very sensitive: child protection, benefits and immigration," she said.
Mallett said that the similarity between services is one of the main reasons Socpo has seen a number of its senior members cross over to the civil service in recent years - including its current president, Francesca Okosi.
Okosi, former HR director at Brent Council, this year became director of change at environmental agency Defra. Her move follows Angela O'Connor's switch from head of personnel at Enfield Council to HR director of the Crown Prosecution Service, and former president Susan Thomas to HR director at the Department for Education and Skills.
Socpo's annual conference in Brighton runs 12-14 March.