4. Facility futures: providing community services in 2010


ISSN: 0263-2772

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




Roberts, P. (2000), "4. Facility futures: providing community services in 2010", Facilities, Vol. 18 No. 3/4. https://doi.org/10.1108/f.2000.06918cab.032



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

4. Facility futures: providing community services in 2010

4. Facility futures: providing community services in 2010

Phil RobertsPhil Roberts is Head of Strategic Facilities Management at Hertfordshire County Council, Chairman of the BIFM Research Committee and IFMA Regional Vice President for Europe.

Keywords: Local government, Public tender, Service quality

In retrospect, the Thatcher administrations will be seen to have been a necessary, but false, start to the restructuring of community services. By 2010 many of the large scale high value contracts initiated during those years will be half way through their term. Some providers will have been unable to manage the risks, and restructured deals which increase the cost to the taxpayer will have been agreed. Some public clients will have found that new technology fundamentally changed the way they provide services. They will also have been forced into expensive renegotiation of long-term agreements.

The Blair administration's Best Value initiative stimulated a new generation of partnering and outsourcing agreements. These second generation agreements focused on service quality and citizen involvement rather than large scale corporately managed investment. Their purpose was to achieve educational outcomes, not maintain school buildings, and improve public health, nor manage hospitals. It also became apparent that if community services were to be designed with the individual citizen in mind, existing local government institutions needed radical reform. As a result, many existing community service organisations such as educational authorities and health trusts were wound up. They were replaced by regional quangos tasked to oversee the provision of integrated community services and to set standards for community involvement within towns and cities. Actively managed regional land and property banks were created from the assets of the old institutions to finance the programme of change. This new framework provided the opportunities for the new breed of service provider.

These second generation providers used new technology to involve stakeholders in service design and to report outcomes to the community. They specialised in total service quality, taking responsibility for all aspects of service delivery including staff, logistics and facilities. Rather than originating from the construction and property industry, they emerged from specialist service delivery organisations and IT, business support, retail and voluntary sectors. Their core competencies lay in human resource management and the effective management of knowledge. They placed a new emphasis on service analysis and design which linked the workplace to customer-led service outcomes. Long-term inflexible contracts were replaced with shorter-term renewable partnering agreements with open book assessments of shared risk. Above all, the second generation providers worked within a strong ethical framework committed to improving the value they provided to the community through self-managed service improvement and open dialogue with community stockholders.

Looking back from the perspective of 2010, the old arguments about core and non-core, outsourcing and insourcing, and the meaning and definition of facilities management, will be seen to have been only stepping stones to radical new strategies for the provision of community services.

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