City Research Online

How do they do it? Understanding back office efficiency savings made by English councils

Chester Buxton, R. and Radnor, Z. (2012). How do they do it? Understanding back office efficiency savings made by English councils. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 25(2), pp. 118-132. doi: 10.1108/09513551211223776

Abstract

Purpose
– The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the back office efficiency savings made by English councils during the 2004 Spending Review (SR04) period in order to consider the relationship between service delivery, audit and inspection and, efficiency programmes in local government. It considers three research questions: the use of secondary data, the relationship between efficiency savings and contextual factors, and the influence of audit and inspection in delivering efficient public services.

Design/methodology/approach
– Through statistical analysis the paper discusses the secondary analysis of publicly available sets of administrative data about local councils in England. These datasets are the annual efficiency statements (AES) taken from records made by each council. The paper discusses through the analysis of the AES the degree of efficiency savings and service improvements in English councils and whether efficiency savings are influenced by internal or external contextual factors.

Findings
– The paper illustrates that secondary data is a useful source of data, but finds that although councils have achieved the efficiency savings set there is no relationship with the contextual factors. The paper considers the influence of audit and inspection, suggesting that the focus has been on meeting the target rather than local needs.

Originality/value
– This paper aims to contribute to the debate regarding the use of performance indicators, audit and inspection and efficiency achievement within local government. The paper starts to explore the implication in the UK where, after a decade of use, the influence of these is reducing dramatically.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2012
Publisher Keywords: Efficiency agenda, Secondary data, Back office, Service improvement, Local government, Local government reform, Resource efficiency, United Kingdom
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Departments: Presidents's Portfolio
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/20640
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