The government’s much-heralded capability reviews, which rate organisational performance inWhitehall departments, lack proper benchmarking and do not assess middle management or frontline staff, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
The in depth reviews – which have cost the Cabinet Office more than £10m to run –commonly find that government HR departments need to build “more effective and professional corporate services… so that they can contribute effectively to raising business performance.“ thestudyconcluded.
However, the reviews do not benchmark departments’ capabilities against organisations outside the Civil Service in areas such as performance management. They also focus entirely on departments’ senior leadership and “do not directly assess the capabilities of departments’ middle management and frontline staff“ who are key to delivering services to the public, the spending watchdog said.
The NAO found that the departments were rated as less than “well-placed” in two-thirds of the 170 different assessment measures. Several reviews have previously highlighted poor people management and inadequate HR provision at the heart of government failings.
Common HR challenges flagged up by the studies include a need to boost skills, improve leadership and rigorously tackle poor performance.
Departments are also struggling to identify whether any changes that follow the reviews are improving organisational performance. Measures that take into account project performance, customer complaints and the skills and commitment of staff need to be developed, the NAO said.
TheCabinet Office said the reviews were well–regarded internationally, and had helped to achieve real benefits for users of public services.
Building on social enterprises
A drive to create 25,000 jobs in social enterprises by expanding their role in providing public services has been announced.
Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne said measures designed to aid aggressive growth in the social enterprise sector will be drawn up at a social enterprise summit.
Byrne said the public would be more open to the ideas and ethos of social enterprise–organisations that are run as businesses but reinvest profits into the community or service developments –given the anger at leading bankers.