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    Government Objectives
    The Government's goal is simple: To make services that are easier to use for the individual and that fit the way people live their lives today. That means high quality services which:
    • put customers first;
    • encourage access and promote choice;
    • use new technology, especially IT, effectively;
    • are open and accountable;
    • work in partnership with others to ensure seamless delivery;
    • use resources effectively; and innovate and improve.
    In order to meet these challenges there are a number of quality tools available which can help agencies and the wider public sector. They enable organisations to assess their strengths and weaknesses and encourage them to adopt best practice. The Cabinet Office has launched a Modernizing Government Quality Schemes Task Force to look at how best the different quality schemes can work together in the public sector to enhance their impact, to identify and promote best practice, and to reach out to many more services. This Task Force will report at the end of 1999, but the Government is pleased to note that quality tools are already being used widely and increasingly by Agencies.

    This Guidance looks at three of these quality tools that agencies are currently involved in. These are:
    1. Charter Mark;
    2. Investors in People; and
    3. Business Excellence Model.
    Charter Mark
    Charter Mark is the Government's award scheme for encouraging and rewarding improvement in the delivery of public services. Those services that are assessed as providing an excellent standard of service get the public recognition of the Charter Mark Award. In addition, every applicant gets an independent assessment and detailed feedback on how to improve.

    Investors in People
    Investors in People (IiP) is a national standard for effective investment in the training and development of people in order to achieve organisational goals. It is based on four key principles:
    1. A commitment from the top to develop all employees;
    2. A regular review of the training and development needs of employees and a plan to meet these needs;
    3. Action to train and develop individuals throughout their employment; and
    4. The measurement of the organisation's success in using its investment in training and development effectively.
The Benefits
The credibility of these benefits offered by the BEM is underlined by the extent of its use in the private sector. In addition to the EFQM's own highly prestigious European Quality Award, almost every European country, including the UK, now has a national quality award based on the BEM awards across Europe. These schemes, widely considered the 'Oscars' of the business world, are also increasingly being supplemented by regional awards. Use of the BEM is by no means limited to those private sector companies which intend to apply for an award.

The Government is committed to improving and modernizing public services. Some of the quality tools they have identified to help them achieve these aims are equally pertinent to private sector suppliers. This Guidance focuses on how these tools are helping achieve higher quality services for Government. Hopefully this will provide you with a greater understanding as to how they could be employed to the benefit of your organisation.
    The Government is committed to all civil servants being employed in organisations recognised as Investors in People by the end of 2000. As at 31.12.1998 there were 52 agencies who had IiP accreditation.

    The 1997 Next Steps Report gave details of the progress of Phase Two of their Public Sector Benchmarking Project, which the Cabinet Office has been sponsoring since 1996. This Guidance gives further details on the reasons for adopting the Business Excellence Model, the results and benefits obtained to date and the linkages to other performance improvement techniques.

    The Challenge
    One of the consistent messages running through the series of Next Steps Reports is the need for more effective performance reporting. It is essential for each agency to have a group of performance indicators which gives a clear account of the range of outputs produced, with targets set at a level which encourages ever improving achievement. Of similar importance is a system which would allow a meaningful assessment to be drawn of an agency's overall performance and also of its likely future performance. For this, the traditional backward-looking performance indicator approach, for all its many other strengths, can be a poor guide.

    The ability to assess overall and likely future performance is steadily growing in importance, as it becomes ever more clear that the standards of service provided need to improve still further, in response to rising user expectations, while tight control of public spending requires greater levels of efficiency in the use of resources. In the challenge to provide more for less, the public service benefits from the considerable enthusiasm of managers and staff at all levels within agencies. There is much evidence of their keenness to make improvements in their service delivery and of their interest in learning from the good practice of others, both within the public sector and beyond. However, performance against targets may give a limited indication of the reasons why particular levels of service are achieved and of what needs to be done to raise those levels for the future. Equally, the diversity of the agency community makes sharing good practice significantly more complex.

    The Public Sector Benchmarking Project seeks to address these challenges in order to support the Modernizing Government agenda and its drive for better value services by helping agencies to:
Business Excellence Model
The methodology selected for the project was the Business Excellence Model (BEM), developed by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) during 1988-1991. In choosing the BEM, it was recognised that one of its strengths was that it gave a perspective over the whole of an organisation's activities looking not only at the financial and customer service outputs, but also linking these to the internal processes and resource inputs. As a consequence, the BEM allows an overall measure of performance to be generated, as well as providing detailed assessments of particular elements contributing to the whole.

Moreover, since the BEM considers not only the results achieved but also the processes which produce them, it offers a degree of forward prediction of performance. In addition to providing a snapshot picture of performance, the BEM is a standard framework which can be applied on a regular basis over time and with a range of different organisations. It therefore allows comparisons to be made, revealing both the trends over time of a particular organisation and also that organisation's performance is in contrast with that of others, whether in the public or private sectors. These comparisons will not be exact, but they do provide pointers about areas of relative strength and weakness, which in turn helps managers to think about where to focus improvement effort.

A key part of the BEM assessment process is that it highlights those areas where an organisation is performing well, as well as those where it is performing poorly. This detailed 'health check' provides a valuable input to the annual business planning process. It also serves to identify examples of good practice and forms a common language which organisations can use in order to share best practice, even between very different types of organisation.

Public Sector Reports
Public Sector; and ยท an annual conference, bringing together Chief Executives and quality managers from across the public sector. The latest conference, held on 19-20 January 1999, was attended by over 160 delegates representing 93 different organisations.
Recent Survey Reports
A recent survey suggested that in the UK all of the FTSE 10 and 46 of the FTSE 100 businesses are using BEM, as are thousands of other firms across Europe. Many of the most successful firms in the region, such as TNT Express, winner of the 1998 European Quality Award, relate their business success to their use of the BEM.

Despite this widespread use in the private sector, at the time that the BEM was selected for the benchmarking project, there was only a handful of agencies using it. There was a widespread concern that its private sector origins might mean that it was unsuitable for significant use in the public sector.

Apart from certain issues of language , critics argued that the BEM gave insufficient recognition of the political environment within which public sector organisations operate and also took little regard of the question of public accountability. It is certainly true that political control of public sector organisations means that there are key aspects of the way in which they do business which are laid down for them. However, extensive discussions with private sector users of BEM has demonstrated that similar considerations apply to many of their organisations, particularly those which are subsidiaries of large, often multi-national corporations.

Public Sector Accountability
Equally, procedures for public accountability are laid down for organisations in both the public and private sectors, albeit perhaps more strictly in the public sector, and there is limited scope for an individual body to influence these procedures. In summary, the evidence suggests that it is appropriate for the BEM to focus on those areas which are within the organisation's control and to assess how well constraints are managed, rather than for it to highlight issues about which the organisation can do nothing. The impact of the political environment on performance and the question of public accountability are clearly both significant issues, but these are best dealt with in other ways and do not undermine the benefits offered by the BEM.
Assessment Results
The use of a standard framework for assessment means that it is possible to produce charts showing the range and spread of performance across the agency sector. The overall scores have changed little since those published last year, indicating that a sufficient mass of data has been collected in order to make the aggregated date representative of the whole. The overall score resulting from the median performance in each criterion remains around the 350 point mark. As was discussed in last year's Next Steps Report, this represents a sound performance.

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A contract is usually awarded to the supplier(s) that considers offers the best value for money.

For this reason, the main evaluation criterion will be the "most economically advantageous tender" as determined by the criteria set out in the tender documents. The award criteria varies depending on the type of contract. Examples of award criteria, in addition to price, are experience, technical merit, financial viability, flexibility to future changes to requirements, speed of project delivery, sustainability, quality and equalities.

Award of contract
An evaluation team will examine each tender received and make recommendations as to which tender represents best value for money. Once the contract has been awarded, both the successful and unsuccessful tenderers will be notified. Unsuccessful tenderers may obtain feedback through written application. From 31 January 2006 a ruling for all procurements carried out under the EU Public Procurement Regulations requires a 10 day stand-still period between the notification of the successful bidder and the contract award.
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