As a result of the appraisal findings, Mr McLeish has set in motion legislation at Westminster to maintain the current moratorium on compulsory competitive tendering (CCT).
Speaking at a COSLA conference in Crieff, the minister also launched a consultation paper by the Best Value Task Force to establish the initiatives long-term future.
Mr McLeish said:
'Progress does not have to be spectacular to affect the lives of Scottish citizens and what this appraisal highlights is a broad-based push to improve all services. Examples of this are: reducing duplication in contracts saving over£0.5 million a year; combining of council tax and housing benefit to provide improved services for the same cost; reducing bureaucratic service specifications from over 300 to just eight pages.
'Although I am greatly heartened at this picture of progress there is still a lot to be done to improve the implementation of best value further. This includes increased focus on output goals and better use of information systems.
'The Best Value Task Force consultation paper will help to further establish the initiatives long term future. It offers the chance to comment on the long-term best value framework and the need for, and nature of, any legislation to secure its future.
The story of best value in Scotland is one of success. I urge councils to continue to develop best value, implement the final stage of the Task Force plan and ultimately maximise its achievement.
1. The first report of the Best Value Task Force set out a three stage implementation plan for best value. The first stage - commitment - was successfully completed on February 17, 1998, allowing the secretary of state to extend the moratorium on CCT to July 1, 1999. The second stage focussed on progress and councils were invited to apply for a further years exemption from CCT to July 1, 2000. The 1998 Best Value Appraisal Guidance (published under cover of SODD Circular 12/98) outlined the process.
2. The 1998 appraisal round was undertaken between September 1998 and March 1999. Councils were invited to provide updates/reports on the following:
- Implementation Plans for 1997-98 as part of the first stage, councils set out how they intended to implement Best Value. These plans were assessed to establish what councils had achieved;
- Value for money for CCT prescribed services councils were asked to complete a proforma to identify how they were ensuring that the former CCT services continue to obtain value for money;
- Service reviews scrutiny of written reports and meetings with all councils to discuss progress and where possible the outcomes of between three and five service reviews across all councils;
- Prescribed indicators for previous financial years councils were asked (by Circular 5/99) to provide information for a range of performance indicators and to set targets; and
- New implementation plans detailing the development of Public Performance Reporting councils were asked to provide a new plan to identify how they would continue to implement Best Value.
3. The Accounts Commission and the Scottish Office Inspectorates were both involved in the appraisal. The Commission undertook an audit of councils 1997-98 implementation plans to look for evidence that the achievements recorded actually took place. The Scottish Office Best Value team and Inspectorates met with every authority to discuss progress.
4. Further information on Best Value can be found on the website