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Standards watchdog to review risks from new models of service delivery

The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) is to commission independent research on the risks created by the development of new models of public service delivery.

The research project will be a key part of the committee’s work programme for 2014/15.

“The Committee’s view is that those commissioning and providing public services should ensure services are delivered in a way which maintains high ethical standards,” the CSPL said.

The independent research will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2014 “to probe attitudes to the commissioning, procuring or contracting of public services and the ethical principles and standards expected”.

The CSPL said two other important projects in 2014/15 would be to:

  • Review how ethics can be included across public sector organisations in internal processes such as induction and professional development and enable staff to exercise appropriate ethical judgement in resolving problems faced. The committee said it would be collaborating with other sectors “to identify what works, capture best practice and make recommendations to help public sector organisations promote and support ethical decision making and a culture of high ethical standards”. It intends to publish a final review in July.
  • Conduct further work on international comparators on trust. With evidence of declining trust in public institutions in the UK, the committee plans to do some further work on international comparators “to ascertain if declining trust is a national trend or part of a broader change in attitudes of citizens across western democracies”. A seminar will be held in March exploring the role high ethical standards can play in establishing and maintaining trust.

Lord (Paul) Bew, chairman of the committee, said: “The seven ‘Nolan’ principles of public life are now widely known and disseminated. What is needed now is not, generally, new sets of rules, codes, guides and regulators but greater embedding of ethical standards into the culture of public sector organisations. Our recent responses to consultations such as whistleblowing and police standards reflect this, as does our work programme for 2014.”

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