The department of Business Innovation and Skills has outlined its plans to make its 3,000 staff more flexible, more skilled and more connected with other departments as Budgets are cut and the organisation becomes smaller.
BIS has outlined its key challenges, explaining its complex policy environment, and the background of a challenging economic climate and reduced budgets.
The organisation has more than 2,500 staff in its core department and an additional 550 staff working in UK Trade and Investment across the globe.
The Department works closely with a wide network of over 40 partner organisations, employing around 28,000 staff that support delivery of the Government's growth objectives. In 2011‐12 the Department had an overall budget of £17.7bn. This is set to reduce to £14.8bn by 2014‐15.
BIS faces three key challenges as a Department, which it needs to successfully manage to deliver the Government's growth agenda.
BIS is one of the more complex of Whitehall departments. It has responsibility for both policy and delivery, as well as a wide breadth of policy areas covering innovation, skills, enterprise, trade and markets. This complexity creates an inherent challenge to create, embed and deliver a coherent vision.
BIS works with a wide range of partner organisations and stakeholders to achieve its core mission of delivering growth in the UK economy. The challenging backdrop of the global economic downturn makes our mission as important as it has ever been, but also commensurately more difficult to deliver.
As part of Whitehall's contribution to reductions in public spending, the Department needs to achieve the Government's growth objectives within a significantly smaller budget. The 2010 Spending Review reduced BIS's resource budget by 25%, capital budget by 44% and administration budget by 40% (or 22% excluding the RDAs).
To meet these challenges, BIS implemented a radical change programme in 2011 to make the department smaller (to work within a reduced budget); flexible (with greater team working, less hierarchy, and staff ready for the unexpected); more focused: on ministers' priorities; more connected (with partners, other parts of government, stakeholders and with other BIS staff, sharing knowledge across the Department and partner organisations); more skilled (training BIS staff to make full use of our expertise and to build new skills Key to the change has been an extensive effort by BIS staff to identify how the Department can become more flexible, innovative and open as an organisation).
The organisation is mid‐way on that change journey but already beginning to see practical benefits. Together with its partners BIS is working hard to overcome these challenges, to make a difference supporting sustained growth and higher skills across the economy.
The action plan shows how the department is succeeding in delivering on the government's key growth priorities. It is engaging staff through a complex period of change with a commitment to increasing capability.
The action plan also shows how the department needs to improve. For example, the department needs to continue to keep a tight focus on performance management.
Martin Donnelly, permanent secretary at the Department for Business, said: "This Capability Assessment is good news. It shows that we are delivering on the government's key growth priorities during challenging economic times; building our links with staff through a complex period of change; and that we are committed to increasing our all-round capability.
"There is more to do, and no room for complacency. We know that we need to improve the way we express the BIS vision, both within and outside the department, and we need to prioritise more systematically to support delivery of our objectives. I am confident that our staff have the professionalism, expertise and commitment to make BIS even more effective in future."
Julia King, BIS non-executive director, said: "The Review highlights a focus on continuous improvement, noting that BIS has developed a range of strategies and plans to address areas of weakness. In doing this the team are building on a strong track record of effective delivery through a time of both external change and internal restructuring. I am confident that the department will continue to address its challenges with energy, developing a clear articulation of what success looks like, and prioritising actions to achieve this. I look forward to helping it to do so."
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