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Title: The role of performance assessment in the management of facilities and support services in the public sector
Author: Bailey, T. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5363 6838
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Since the 1980s, successive governments have imposed a range of performance assessment regimes for incorporation within the service management processes of public bodies with the intention of emulating the success achieved from their use in delivering ‘effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy’ within the private sector (De Bruijn 2007). Concurrently, increasingly knowledgeable and resourceful stakeholders have sought confirmation that as well as meeting its statutory obligations their local authority is consistently delivering its local community with a range of high quality, flexible services by working, where appropriate, in partnership with other public or private sector organisations. Given the above, soft facilities management (FM) services (ie those that provide support to the front line services, such as cleaning, reception, mail room), provide a significant overhead to the local authority, the research sets out to determine the role of facilities management within the local authority context and FMs’ awareness and use of performance assessment within this context, as part of the soft FM management process. Following a review of the literature, a theoretical model was proposed that outlined the factors affecting the effective use of performance assessment within the management of soft FM services within a local authority context. The factors were determined to be the organisational and wider environment, use of knowledge/information and education and awareness of performance assessment within the FMs. The research methodology comprised a questionnaire, a set of semi-structured interviews and case studies. Accordingly, the research evaluated - if there was a generic profile for soft FM services within the local authority context - the factors that affect the effective use (or result in non-use) of seven performance assessment techniques (operational and strategic) within the management of fourteen soft FM services, and - their value, if any, in assisting the FM to ensure the provision of accountable, value for money services that satisfy the customers/stakeholders they serve. 4 In order to ensure a consistent approach for assessing soft FM services within this context, the research proposed a four-step methodology for defining and assessing FM services and their performance. Despite the requirement for local authorities to evidence accountability, provide ‘value for money’ and customer responsive services, the research established an unexpectedly low level of knowledge of any performance assessment technique other than benchmarking and a corresponding low use of the evaluated techniques. This was despite recognition by FMs within a local authority context of the perceived value of performance assessment as part of the service management process. There also appeared to be limited endorsement from Senior Management and Council Members for its use within the management of soft FM services. Furthermore, a knowledge base or soft FM related information on the use of performance assessment both in a wider context, and more specifically within the local authority context proved limited, as did training of FMs in the selection and use of an appropriate performance assessment technique as part of the soft FM service management process. Benchmarking forms the basis of a range of mandatory performance assessment regimes within the public sector. Therefore, in case studies undertaken with local authority FMs, FMs higher and further education and within the National Health Service an assessment was made of its use within the performance assessment of soft FM services within these sectors, and including an evaluation of whether benefits may be gained, or ‘value added’ from cross sector comparisons. Again, the findings were that use within and across sectors proved disappointingly low. The research concluded that current use of performance assessment of soft FM services within this context is limited and ineffective. Improvements to this situation require the adoption of a generic soft FM service remit within local authorities, which would better support meaningful service comparisons, appropriate training for FMS in the use of performance assessment as part of the soft FM management process, a sound knowledge base from which soft FMs can draw best practice, and increased management support. If these cannot be achieved any requirement for its continued use must be questioned.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available