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21st Century Government Briefing No 15


21st Century Government is the Scottish Executive's strategy for bringing about "modern" government in Scotland. It comprises several related initiatives: the 21st Century Government Action Plan, Information Age, Government Framework, and the Modernising Government Fund.

All agencies of the Executive, including the NHSiS and local authorities have reviewed their activities. The Executive has set a target to ensure that – of all services that can be delivered electronically – 10% are available by the end of 2001 and 100% by the end of 2005.

Action Plan | Information Age Government (IAG) | Modernising Govt Fund | Action | Further Information



The 21st Century Government Action Plan was produced in December 2000. It sets targets across all of the Executive and its agencies, and highlights four objectives:

  • To work in partnership
  • To be open and accountable
  • To be inclusive
  • To deliver on its commitments

Built into the objectives are 15 targets, setting out how the various objectives can be delivered

The aim of the Government to streamline and improve service delivery is admirable but there are several aspects of concern for those who deliver the services.

Objective D states that 21s Century Government should deliver on its commitments.

Under this objective, there are three targets. Two deal with performance measurement/ indicators and target setting,

The most controversial section highlights the need for councils to continue with Best Value, including "more flexibility to trade and enter into joint ventures".

The Executive are also committed to continuing to support PPP's "where they represent value for money". There are clearly severe implications for our members in this section.



A draft framework has been published which looks at the way in which technology can be used to deliver public services, using compatible systems (interoperability). The framework looks at service delivery using a "life event", e.g. the birth of a child, which can involve informing several agencies, who often require similar information. IAG proposed one operation, which focuses on the customer's needs, rather than those of departments. It also proposed a Procurement Supervisory Board to look at

savings in purchasing across agencies, using e-procurement.

All public bodies will need to review the skills required to deliver IAG and identify gaps. Staff may need to be trained on different aspects of "life events" than those they currently use.

The framework proposes removing legislative and policy barriers to achieve its aims. Clearly there could be problems for staff and branches must ensure that jobs are protected, terms and conditions retained and proper training given.



Briefing No. 10, Shared Services outlined the Modernising Government Fund's allocation of £26m to 36 projects which use ICT to deliver services in new, more modern, ways, using a range of methods including smartcards, shared services, call centres, one-stop shops.

Local Government

COSLA is pulling together projects from all local authorities, working closely with the Executive to ensure delivery of IAG across Scotland. All councils developed implementation plans prior to 31 March 2001 and a forum was set up involving representatives from each council. 29 councils received approval for projects.

Aberdeen Accordlink - a Smartcard project involving Aberdeen City Council, with health and other agencies. Pilot schemes were run in two Aberdeen schools, using a card for each pupil to use for school meals and for access to library, sport and leisure services, with further applications to follow, including transport and shopping.

North Lanarkshire Direct – involves Lanarkshire Health, and other agencies. The project aims to redevelop information systems around life events, using call centres and one-stop shops.

Scottish Borders Council, East Lothian Council, Borders College and Lothian & Borders Fire Brigade have set up an e-procurement project, using a magnetic card based purchasing system.

In addition, there are projects involving specific council services across the whole of Scotland. Two involving social services tie in with the Regulation of Care Bill and another involves the library service.

Health Service

Some of the projects that received approval from the MGF involved the NHSiS. These concerned joint projects with councils and other bodies. Specific modernisation projects involving the NHS relate to integrated patient records and the electronic transmission of prescriptions from GPs to local pharmacists, then on to the CSA, to streamline the prescriptions process

Unlike the NHS in England and Wales there are no plans to introduce proposals for shared services within Scotland. This has however, been considered in Scotland and concerns remain, that if implemented in England and Wales, this will increase pressure to introduce such proposals here.

Other Services/Branches

Scottish Children's Reporters is looking at links to local authorities to speed up case processing.

Scottish Enterprise has a current project to enable business to be carried out with partners and customers using the internet.

Scottish Further Education has a website providing details of services and courses and their e-strategy is currently under review.

Scottish Homes have developed an internet strategy for use with housing allocation.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has developed an electronic register of its environmental permits, to make their registers available online in due course.

Water Authorities – Prior to merger proposals, each of the three authorities were considering various online activities.

The Water Industry Commissioner is currently receiving some complaints electronically.



  • Study the 21st Century Government Action Plan to find out what is happening with your employer.
  • Seek information on the likely consequences.
  • Look at successful projects and the implications if adopted.
  • Ensure terms and conditions are protected and adequate training given.



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