Promoting ‘Joined Up’ Working in the Public Sector: The Development and Evaluation of a Knowledge Portal for Collaborative Working by Local Government Health and Safety Inspectors

By:
Norma Ford
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Great emphasis has been placed on reinventing the UK public sector in an ongoing quest to improve performance. The use of IT to enable ‘joined up’ working between different parts of government is regarded as a central feature of these change programmes but research suggests there are significant impediments to IT engendering the desired outcomes. This paper describes research to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a knowledge portal designed to enhance communications and the sharing of good practice and ‘know how’ amongst discrete groups of geographically dispersed officers responsible for the enforcement of health and safety legislation. The officers are based in 408 independent Local Authorities and are charged with enforcing the law consistently so that companies can expect a similar interpretation of its requirements regardless of the locality from which they operate. Professional networks have evolved to support and enable the exchange of information and knowledge but they are resource intensive and localised. The evaluation identified that the portal had achieved its aims but also highlighted a number of constraints that militated against full realisation of its potential.


Keywords: Collaborative Working, ‘Joined up’ Working, Public Sector, Knowledge Management, Portal, Internet Technologies, Health and Safety Enforcement, Inter-organisational Working
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability, Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Promoting ‘Joined Up’ Working in the Public Sector


Norma Ford

Senior Lecturer, School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford
UK

Norma Ford is a graduate of the University of Salford. She is professionally qualified as a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner and has 5 years professional experience in health and safety enforcement work. Currently she works as a senior lecturer at the University of Salford specialising in teaching and researching occupational health and safety. She has undertaken a variety of funded research projects for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other Government Bodies ranging from a cost benefit analysis of the Genetically Modified (Contained Use) Regulations through to the investigating ways of improving health and safety training for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Her most recent research project, which was funded by the HSE, aimed to explore means of facilitating and supporting communications and the professional development of local authority based health and safety enforcement officers. The outcome of the project was the design and evaluation of a web portal which demonstrated a range of advantages including further developmental potential.

Ref: T06P0206