Improving design and administration of government support programmes for industry
This thesis describes the research which has been undertaken into a particular area of policy making in the UK, that of the process of designing and implementing programmes aimed at helping industrial firms to become more competitive. Investigations have focused on how the design process is conducted within the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which has lead responsibility for industry in Whitehall. The research had Uvo primary aims. First was to provide a detailed description of the process of designing programmes. Based on the research findings it is proposed that the process comprises the components of'Issue Identification', 'Programme Implementation', and 'Evaluation and Feedback'. The thesis discusses the private nature of the work involved in programme design, and that consequently researchers are often unable to directly observe the activities comprising the process. It is suggested that the veil of secrecy surrounding the development of programmes has prevented substantial debate of this research topic. As a civil servant employed in the DTI, the author has been able to review the activities involved 'first hand', and uncover numerous aspects of the process previously not investigated. Based on the analysis of five case study examples, a systems model has been developed which provides a detailed description o f the structure of the design process, and the mechanisms that are employed. The second aim of the research was to develop proposals for improving current arrangements, towards achieving better value for money in the design and operation of support programmes. The thesis describes how a Business Process Re-engineering approach was adopted to exploit the detailed knowledge of the design system which had been gained, with the aim of discovering deficiencies in the current process and developing proposals for. overcoming problems. Investigations showed that the current guidance provided to officials employed in programme design is inadequate in fully supporting them in the task. It is suggested that this deficiency can be overcome through the introduction of a new set of comprehensive guidance, to be contained in an alternative document referred to as the Handbook for Programme Design and Operation. The handbook, it is proposed, would comprise good practice advice across the broad range of activities involved in programme design. Proposals for further improving the design process through the introduction of effective knowledge management were also developed, and these are again set out in the thesis.