BCC Policy

Operating framework

Title Value
First published: 11 July 2016
Last updated: 09 September 2019
Contents

The Operating Framework is a Council Policy aimed at helping all staff who work for the Council to understand the different accountabilities in different parts of the organisation. It is a key internal governance document for the Council, and is published online to maximise transparency to the public on how the Council is run. 

Policy Details

Decision-taker: Leader
Policy owner:Head of Member Services
Version: V2
Date of decision: 11 July 2016

View the full operating framework.

Lead Policy Owner: Head of Member Services 

Next Review: This document will be reviewed annually by the One Council Board, the next review is due July 2017. Any subsequent significant changes to this document will be agreed by the Leader and any minor changes (for accuracy, legality) will be agreed by the Chief Executive, after consultation with the agreement of the Leader and relevant Cabinet Members.

Version No.  Decision-taker Date Decision Taken 
V1  Cabinet  V1 Cabinet 8 Dec 2014 
V2  Leader  V2 Leader 11 July 2016

About this Policy

The County Council works in a system of interdependent parts, both within the Council and externally with partners in the supply chain. Each part of the system has a different role to play in our ambition to improve outcomes for residents, communities and businesses, but no one part can achieve this in isolation.

This document is a core part of the County Council’s governance system. The high-level rules on how the Council is governed are set out in the Council’s Constitution.

The Operating Framework’s scope covers the key topic areas that matter in running the business to achieve a one Council approach; as well as where it is helpful to set out clear expectations on standards, roles, accountabilities and responsibilities across the organisation, particularly on the respective roles of the Council’s Headquarters,, Business Services Plus and other Business Units.

Members (County Councillors) sit above the Council officer structures, providing the democratic leadership for the Council in their strategic roles as decision-makers, scrutineers (via the Council’s Select Committees) and in carrying out their local roles as community leaders.

The purpose of the Operating Framework is to:

  • Enable Council employees to understand the different accountabilities and responsibilities of HQ and BUs and how the two parts work together to deliver a one Council approach.
  • To ensure a one Council approach in our governance system, providing robust organisational assurance. 
This document is This document is not
An overview for Council employees on key organisational requirements. A comprehensive list of all mandatory requirements as these are set out in supporting strategies, policies, and procedures.
Written for the primary audience of Council employees. Written as a public-facing document for residents.
A key governance document alongside the Council’s Constitution.  A replacement to the Council’s Constitution that sets out the high-level legal basis for how the Council is run.
Mandatory for all Council employees to follow. Mandatory for suppliers to follow unless specific elements are incorporated into contract agreements. A procedure will be developed to set out minimum organisational contract requirements to ensure that requirements are passed down the supply chain.
Changeable Unchangeable.

Members and decision-making

Members and decision-making - Buckinghamshire County Council

What we are working together to achieve:

  • Council decision-making is open, transparent and democratically-led. Members will take decisions on key commissioning issues such as:

    • Strategic Plan (Full Council).

    • The set-up of new external Delivery Units (Cabinet).

    • New contracts/contract variations/extensions that are significant (Cabinet or Cabinet Members).

  • Council officers are able to comply with the Constitution and other internal governance requirements by ensuring that decision-making processes are efficient, easy to use and streamlined. The roles of the Councils corporate governance advisory boards are set out in a OCB procedure. Further guidance will be developed to make it easier for officers to understand requirements.

  • All Members are able to seek timely resolutions to local issues by ensuring that enquiries are responded to swiftly and helping to resolve the issue.

  • All Members are able to influence Council decision-making by ensuring that all Members are kept informed and involved in the development of initiatives and policy. Cabinet or Cabinet Members will take key decisions on the approval of any policies.  All staff, particularly commissioners, are expected to be politically aware, and training will be provided to support this

How HQ and BUs will work together:

Specialist Expertise

HQ will provide guidance and training on decision-making processes to BUs. BUs may seek and be provided with specialist advice on how to follow and meet Council mandatory requirements. The accountability and responsibility for what action is taken, with or without advice provided from HQ, will always sit with the BU and ultimately Managing Director.

ICT Infrastructure

HQ will provide reliable and appropriate ICT infrastructure to make it easy for BUs to record and access information on Member and officer decisions via a single ICT system. BUs will use the Council’s ICT system to record decisions appropriately and to submit committee reports for clearance. BU Boards and other key boards with Members on them will use a single ICT system to enable elected Members to access all of their papers electronically easily without the need to print or use multiple systems.

Support for Members

HQ and BUs will support all Members in all aspects of their different roles, strategically and locally. HQ will lead in providing advice to Cabinet as a whole and Select Committees. In addition, HQ will maintain an overview of all aspects of Member support and provide direct support to enable Members to carry out their roles as Committee Members.
The Adults, Health and Communities BU will provide lead support for Members in their community leadership role. Business Services Plus will support Members through providing support for meeting Member needs on ICT and requirements for accommodation.

Support for all Members to influence decision-making

HQ will provide guidance for officers and Members on the role of Members in the commissioning cycle. BUs will ensure that local Members are engaged early in relation to significant issues that impact specifically on a Member’s division, particularly where there is a significant service change impact on residents. BUs will also seek the advice of HQ on whether the input of all Members is needed on strategic Council-wide issues prior to a formal decision being taken.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Member Services, HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Director of Strategy & Policy, HQ

 

Internal council governance

What we are working together to achieve

  • Internal processes that enable decision-makers to have timely, accurate and the evidence needed to make informed decisions.

  • Internal processes that are streamlined and clear so that it is easy for staff to understand what they need to do to progress a project/policy development.

  • Internal processes that enable decisions to be taken at the most appropriate level – so that staff are empowered to take decisions and which strike the right balance between enabling swift decisions and strong assurance.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Internal Advisory Boards — HQ will coordinate the secretariat support for Council internal advisory boards. BUs will ensure that all appropriate issues are referred to the relevant advisory boards with timely information required.  The key council-wide advisory boards are:

    • One Council Board

    • Customer, Information & Digital Board

    • Asset Strategy Board

  • Policy Governance — The Council has a suite of policy documents that set out what the Council is aiming to do and how it is going to do it, this is referred to as the ‘policy framework’ and these are listed within the Council’s single policy register. The Council’s Constitution sets out in detail mandatory requirements which all staff in HQ and BUs must follow in relation to:

    • Standard Definitions of different types of documents – Policies/Strategies/Procedures.

    • Specifically names and explains which documents need to be agreed by different bodies for legal reasons or as a matter of local choice. For example some documents must be agreed by full Council and some by Cabinet.

    • A requirement for all Council policies to be listed on the Council’s policy register.

Policy Register — HQ will coordinate and support a single policy register for the whole Council. All staff must use it to record and report policies. Only documents listed in the Council’s policy register are endorsed by the Council and apply. Where a document is not listed in the policy register it has no status, and is not endorsed by the Council.

Policy Development— Policy development will take place at both HQ and BU level. The HQ will lead on promoting best practice in the policy-making process to support the delivery of the policy framework. It will also lead on the policy development of some core Council policies. BUs will develop those core policies which are specific to their particular areas of expertise, and provide specialist expertise to inform all of the Council’s Strategies and Policies as needed. BUs will develop unit-level procedures and guidance as needed in line with the Council’s policy framework.Core Council and Partnership Strategies & Policies. ‘Core’ Council Strategies and Policies are the most important documents for the Council strategically to deliver outcomes for Buckinghamshire. The Councils’ Core Policies comprise:

Core Council Strategies and Policies 

Statutory

Decision-maker

Strategic Plan

No

Council

Medium Term Financial Plan

No (budget only)

Council

Commissioning  Framework

No

Cabinet

Business Unit Plans

No

Cabinet

Capital Investment Strategy

No

Cabinet

Asset Management Strategy

No

Cabinet

Treasury Management Strategy

Yes

Council

Operating Framework

No

Leader

Local Transport Plan

Yes

Council

Minerals and Waste Development Plan

Yes

Council

People and Organisational Development Strategy

No

Cabinet Member

 

  • Core Partnership Strategies: The Council works with partners to develop broader policies and plans for Buckinghamshire as a whole. The outcomes in these strategies will inform, and be informed by, the Strategic Plan. The core partnership policies that the Council will adopt are:

Core Partnership Strategies

Partnership Lead

Statutory

Council Decision-maker

Health and Wellbeing Strategy

Health and Wellbeing Board

Yes

Council

Safer Bucks Plan

Safer and Stronger Bucks Partnership Board

Yes

Cabinet

Youth Justice Strategic Plan

Youth Justice Management Board

Yes

Cabinet Member

Children and Young People’s Plan

Children and Young People’s Partnership Executive

No

Cabinet

Strategic Economic Plan

Local Economic Partnership (LEP)

No

Cabinet

  • Partnership Policies Governance—If a partnership document meets the Council definitions of being a Strategy or Policy and the Council wishes to be a signatory of this document then officers must ensure that Council decision-making requirements in the Constitution are implemented e.g. that a key decision is taken.
  • Policy Register—HQ will coordinate the provision of a single policy register. This will capture information on emerging proposals and policies to enable opportunities for collaborative working as well as information on all live Strategies, Policies and Procedures. BUs will be responsible for logging information on the register regularly on emerging ideas for policy changes and proposals. This will enable greater opportunities for joining-up approaches across the Council.      

Our policy hierarchy

 Hierarchy Graphic

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Member Services, HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Director of Strategy & Policy, HQ

 

Project management

What we are trying to achieve together:

  • Robust and consistent project management approach demonstrated across the Council to support the delivery of change at pace effectively, supported by a standard gated process for the management of all projects.
  • A collaborative approach to change management—making it easier for staff to understand and have visibility of the development of projects across the organisation, supported by a single project register which all staff will be required to use.
  • Proportionate governance arrangements for projects so that the Council’s major projects are the ones that require more extensive assurance processes to manage organisational risk appropriately.

How HQ and BUs will work together:

  • Project Governance—HQ will provide guidance on project management, including a standard gated methodology. HQ will provide organisational information for key governance boards on the progress of major projects. BUs will follow the standard gated process and develop and support the development of systems and processes to strengthen project governance.
  • Project Start-up—There will be a process for ensuring projects receive an appropriate mandate for start-up. Projects identified as ‘major’ by the One Council Board, and set out in the BU Commercial Plan, will be commissioned for start-up by the OCB. Non-major projects will receive their mandate for start-up by the relevant HQ/BU Board or other appropriate mechanism determined within these units.
  • Project Gated Process—HQ and BU Boards will manage a gated process for revenue projects. The HQ and BU Boards will escalate to the One Council Board the consideration of outline business cases for major projects and, by exception, at other gated points where a major revenue project is identified as off-track. Where a capital project is off-track this will be monitored and reported to the Asset Strategy Board.
  • Project Management Skills—HQ will support the development of organisational skills training in project management. BUs will ensure that their people strategies include the development of project management skills and expertise as required.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Strategic Finance, Assurance, HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Director of Assurance, HQ

 

Strategic commissioning and business planning

What we are working to achieve together:

  • All commissioning activity across the Council will clearly link to the priorities set by Members in the Strategic Plan with better targeting of resources at the things that make the biggest difference for residents and communities.
  • There will be a stronger focus on Value for Money through ensuring that decision-making on the Council’s outcomes are clearly linked to the allocation of resources through the BU Commercial Plans, and by undertaking cross-cutting strategic options appraisals under the direction of Cabinet, and by ensuring that all Business Unit Commercial Plan proposals are underpinned by robust value for money assessments.

Key documents within the planning process are:

Strategic Plan (published Full Council decision)

Sets out the Level One (high level) outcomes, usually at broad population level, that the Council wishes to achieve for Buckinghamshire (not purely deliverable by BCC alone). Also it sets out the Level 2 outcomes against which commissioning activity will take place i.e. that specify the BCC contribution to Level 1 outcomes.

The Strategic Plan:

  • Is a four year rolling plan (this year it spans three years and thereafter four years).
  • Has a ten year time horizon.
  • Directly links to budget.
  • Includes indicators measuring progress against L1/L2 outcomes.

Business Unit Commercial Plans (published Cabinet Member Decision)

A single plan for each Business Unit that sets out:

  • Their contribution to specific Level 2 outcomes over a four year timescale (three years initially) and the budget associated with them.
  • Reviews evidence for key changes in delivery of services and/or planned changes in delivery ahead, including areas for disinvestment.

Shows how political Cabinet Member portfolios link to outcomes and budgets.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • The Council’s business planning cycle—HQ will coordinate the business planning cycle for the Council including setting the timescales for this and leading on the advice to Cabinet and co-ordination of BU Plans. HQ will ensure that this is a fully integrated process covering both outcomes and budget setting.
  • BUs will lead on developing BU Commercial Plans. Whilst HQ will not produce a commercial plan in the same way that BU Plans will be produced, it will produce an annual plan and be accountable for this.
  • Business Planning Decision-making—All significant commissioning decisions will be taken by Members
    • Cabinet will agree and recommend proposals on the prioritisation of outcomes important to Buckinghamshire, the measures by which impact will be assessed, and the budgets for these (set out in the Strategic Plan, Medium Term Financial Plan and supporting BU Commercial Plans).
    • Cabinet Members will take key decisions on the approval of BU Commercial Plans (Feb)
    • Full Council will take the final decision in February of each year on the Council’s Strategic Plan and Medium Term Financial Plan.
    • Cabinet will take decisions on significant commissioning decisions throughout the year such as the set-up of new Delivery Units
    • Cabinet or Cabinet Members will take decisions throughout the year on other significant commissioning decisions such as new service contracts or variations to existing ones (in line with Constitutional rules)
  • Commissioning roles —HQ will advise and support Cabinet and BUs to develop level 1 & 2 outcomes. BUs will co-design level 2 outcomes and use these to develop BU Commercial Plans. BUs will lead on developing commissioning options and proposals to put to the appropriate decision-maker, normally the respective Cabinet Member.
  • Supporting Select Committee Members—HQ will lead in supporting Members in their role on Select Committees to help improve outcomes for residents through investigating issues and making reports with recommendations for change which influence commissioning decisions.BUs will support the Select Committees to carry out their role through providing information on commissioning issues as and when requested.
  • Supporting Members in their roles as Community Leaders—HQ will ensure that all Members have the opportunity to influence the development of the Strategic Plan. BUs will ensure that all Members have the opportunity to influence commissioning plans and decisions that have a specific impact on a Member’s division, or where the lead Cabinet Member requests an engagement exercise with all Members prior to a formal decision
  • Working Collaboratively—HQ will lead on the coordination of commissioning networks, as required, supporting the delivery of the Council’s cross-cutting outcomes.  This will be supported through a nominated Managing Director from one Business Unit to lead collaboration across the Units for a specific Level 2 outcome.  BUs will actively support the commissioning networks through peer learning, support and constructive challenge
  • Specialist Expertise—HQ will provide guidance on the strategic commissioning process overall, the role of Members and the achievement of level 1 & 2 outcomes. BUs will provide specialist expertise to inform the Strategic Plan and BU Commercial Plans. BUs will have subject specialist commissioning expertise to manage all aspects of the commissioning cycle.
  • Reviewing Performance—Cabinet will review the delivery of the Strategic Plan and all BU Plans. The One Council Board, with the assistance of HQ and BU employees, will advise Members on delivery of the plans. BUs will regularly monitor and review their performance in delivering the BU Plan via the respective BU Board.
  • Strategic Options Appraisals—HQ will lead on co-ordinating an ongoing cycle of Strategic Options Appraisals in addition to ongoing BU commissioning activity to assess service specific options. These strategic appraisals will be forward looking and the scope will be flexed to focus on either how best to achieve an outcome or service. HQ and BUs will identify opportunities for Strategic Options Appraisals. Cabinet and Cabinet Members will have oversight of the Strategic Options Appraisals, with the One Council Board and HQ/BU Boards using their findings to inform future commissioning plans. The method of delivery of the Strategic Options Appraisals may vary on a case-by-case basis, this may be delivered via in-house resource from the HQ/BUs or alternatively by an external consultancy. 

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Strategy & Innovation, Strategy & Policy, HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Director of Strategy & Policy, HQ

 

Financial management

What we are working to achieve together:

  • Robust financial management across the organisation as evidenced by achieving a balanced budget, effective monitoring arrangements and an unqualified audit opinion.
  • Staff across the organisation to have the skills & knowledge to manage budgets effectively and act commercially.
  • Business Units to be incentivised to generate increased income and reduce costs effectively. For example, though enabling the retention of 75% of any surplus revenue at year-end by each BU.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Policies—HQ will have oversight of all of the Council’s financial policy documents which are listed in the policy register. BUs will implement the organisational financial requirements and be accountable for ensuring value for money is achieved against delivery of the BU Plan.
  • Specialist Expertise—HQ will provide guidance on how to achieve value for money, including assessment methods as part of the Commissioning Framework. HQ will also provide guidance on financial management and, where appropriate, template procedures.
  • Budget Management—HQ will manage a single approach to the accounts, lead on developing the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) and regularly monitor the Council’s revenue and capital budgets, advising Members accordingly. BUs are accountable for effective budget management in their areas of control, meeting HQ reporting requirements and reporting/escalating issues appropriately.
  • Decision-making on Capital—HQ will provide advice and support to the Cabinet and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources in particular on the development of the Capital Programme through the Assets Strategy Board. Medium term capital allocations will be set out in the BU Plans. Decisions on whether to approve the release of these capital funds through the capital gateway process will be made following a recommendation from the Assets Strategy Board. BUs will manage capital projects within their remit within the resource and timescales agreed and escalate any issues to HQ appropriately. BUs will prepare business cases for capital proposals and submit these to the Assets Strategy Board for consideration.
  • Decision-making on Revenue—HQ will support BUs to manage their revenue funds effectively through the provision of guidance. BUs are accountable and responsible for managing revenue funds appropriately in their areas. After the budget for the BU has been agreed by Members, as part of the MTFP, then BUs will be able to spend these funds in line with the agreed processes without seeking any further authorisation from HQ. Where revenue (investment) is needed to support a project then the BU will follow the Council’s standard approach to project management, implementing the standard gated process. BUs will record key information on project finances on the Council’s single project register.
  • Overspends and Underspends—HQ will have oversight of all BU over and underspends and be assured that any appropriate action is being taken. BUs will be able to keep 75% of unspent revenue surpluses at the year-end, as set out in the Council’s Financial Regulations in the Constitution, unless Cabinet determines otherwise in the wider interests of the Council as a whole. Any overspends by BUs will be considered as borrowing to be paid back over an agreed period, unless Cabinet determines otherwise. The criteria for managing overspends and underspends are set out in the Council’s Financial Regulations in the Constitution.
  • Virements—The criteria for allowing in-year budget movements are set out in the Council’s Financial Regulations in the Constitution.  In-year revenue movements between political portfolios will be approved by the relevant Cabinet Members. Movements of revenue within a BU and political portfolio will be agreed by the BU Managing Director in agreement with the relevant Cabinet Member. The process for in-year capital virements requires approval by the Cabinet Member for Resources, advised by the Asset Strategy Board.
  • Demand Management—BUs will consider how best to manage current and future demand when commissioning services, drawing upon business intelligence to help plan and take preventative action. The HQ will ensure that demand management principles are embedded into the methodology for Strategic Options Appraisals as well as the Commissioning Framework.
  • Income Generation and Debt Management—HQ will establish corporate frameworks for income generation and debt management. BUs will be able to develop local arrangements within that framework.  Each BU will be responsible for maximising its income and raising invoices in a timely manner.  Each BU will be responsible for recovering debts at the earliest opportunity.  Failure to recover debts in a reasonable timescale will result in a corporate process being implemented led by the HQ, the cost and consequences of which will be borne by the relevant BU.  
  • Earmarked Reserves—HQ will have oversight of all earmarked reserves, which can only be spent if the conditions which created them are met.  Requests for setting up earmarked reserves are subject to the agreement of the Director of Assurance.
  • Insurance—HQ will provide the Insurance function to maintain oversight of insurable risks and determine, in consultation with BUs, the type and level of cover to be provided.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Strategic Finance, Assurance, HQ

Lead OCB Owner:Director of Assurance, HQ

 

Commissioning - procurement, supplier and contract management

What we are working to achieve together:

  • Robust governance in the set-up and management of contracts, including through the use of a single contract management system which all contract managers will use. This will enable a single view of all contracts to support the Council to identify and maximise opportunities for value for money in reviewing contracts, as well as strengthening ongoing contract management.
  • Ensuring high quality services are delivered to our residents regardless of the type of Delivery Unit used (external or internal).
  • Ensuring council staff have the skills and capability to commission, including letting and managing contracts effectively.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Policies—HQ will have oversight of all Council policies relating to procurement, suppliers and contracts. These will be set out as part of the new Commissioning Framework. HQ will also provide all parts of the organisation with guidance on best practice. BUs will implement these policies.
  • Supplier and Contract Management—There will be a common supplier, contract and management approach used by all contract and relationship managers across the authority, as set out as part of the new Commissioning Framework. HQ will lead on the development and enhancement of this framework, working with BUs to implement it at an appropriate level with their specific workforces and markets.
  • Single Contract System—There is a single contract register used by all contract managers across the Council, which is enabled by a single IT system. HQ and BUs will use the IT system to enhance the management of our supplier relationships and support category insight capability. BUs will ensure that the contract system is kept up-to-date and holds all of the required information on contracts and contract management practice. HQ will be the owner of the contract system.
  • Procurement & Contract Letting–HQ will own and maintain Standing Orders as set out in the Constitution. The Contract Standing Orders include the criteria for tendering arrangements. A contract goes out for tender in line with the EU legal tendering thresholds: below the EU thresholds and above £25,000 there is a requirement for a minimum of three quotations to be obtained. BUs will ensure that they comply with Standing Orders for Contracts and are accountable for demonstrating value for money in procurement activity. Business Services Plus will provide specialist advice and guidance on all procurement activity and specifically support all high value and/or high risk tendering activity, as defined in Standing Orders.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Strategy & Innovation, Strategy & Policy, HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Director of Strategy & Policy, HQ

 

Delivery of support services

What we are working together to achieve:

  • Maximising value for money for the Council as a whole through a presumption that Alternative Delivery Vehicles (ADVs) are required to buy back services from Business Services Plus and that this must be included in the contract or grant agreement.
  • After a minimum period of six months from the start of operation, the BCC lead commissioner, with the ADV, may present a business case to the One Council Board for the ADV to terminate its support services from the County Council and seek alternative provision. The business case must include an assessment of the impact on the rest of the County Council. OCB will make a decision based upon the best interests of the Council as a whole.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Internal commissioning relationship—HQ will act as the commissioner of Business Services Plus services on behalf of the Council as a whole. This means that the HQ will appoint a nominated commissioning lead and drive forward a process of developing and agreeing internal service level agreements between Business Services Plus and the rest of the organisation. Business Units will be active participates in this development process. The One Council Board will agree and sign-off any SLAs.
  • Delivery Standards—HQ will ensure that the internal Service Level Agreements between Business Services Plus and the rest of the Council include clear quality standards and the consequences and process for managing disputes on delivery between parties. The HQ lead commissioner and Business Services Plus will meet the BU Managing Directors regularly to review delivery against agreed Key Performance Indicators. BUs will be able secure external support under circumstances that Business Services Plus is not able to internally provide the support requested. HQ and BUs will submit a business case to the HQ Lead Commissioner for using external support if required. The arrangements for agreeing the exact circumstances will be set out in the SLA, the brokerage of such external support will be provided by Business Services Plus.
  • Driving Efficiency, Improvement and Commerciality—Business Services Plus will provide HQ and BUs with consultancy support, operational support and commercial services. It will include a focus on identifying new services and products which are saleable to a wider range of customers both within and outside the County Council.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Strategic Finance, Assurance, HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Head of Strategic Finance, Assurance, HQ

 

Property Assets and Services

What we are working together to achieve:

  • Maximising the opportunities and value for money provided by operating a one council approach in the management of all of the Council’s assets, including property.
  • Making best use of our assets to meet the needs of Communities and Customers, for example through working with partners and internally to look strategically at opportunities for multi-use venues.
  • Making best use of our existing properties by investing in their upkeep to keep running costs down.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Policies—HQ will lead on the Council’s Property Asset Strategy and single council-wide Property Assets Management Plan including targets for optimisation and income. BUs will include all of the key asset requirements in their BU Plans.
  • Decision-taking—Cabinet and Cabinet Members will continue to take the decisions on all significant property issues, and property implications are considered as a matter of course in all formal decision-taking. Where capital investment is required for a decision related to property, BUs will propose capital investments via BU Plans, after consultation with HQ; and, closer to implementation submit business cases for consideration by the Assets Strategy Board prior to a Cabinet/Cabinet Member Decision.
  • Specialist expertise—Business Services Plus will provide expertise to other BUs & HQ on maximising income; managing accommodation; and implementing property requirements. HQ will provide expertise on asset and estate management.
  • Property Asset Management—HQ, acting as corporate landlord, will commission effective property asset management from Business Services Plus. Other BUs will be responsible for developing delivery plans to ensure that value for money is secured for effective use of the Council’s property assets.
  • Building Security—HQ will lead in ensuring that appropriate policies and procedures are in place in relation to the security of the Council’s buildings and commissioning appropriate support from Business Services Plus to deliver these policies and procedures.
  • Property Services/Accommodation Management—HQ will provide overall leadership on the effective utilisation of the Council’s estate and ensuring the council-wide SLA includes clear standards for the quality of property services, represents value for money and is aligned to business requirements.
  • HQ will manage leases and licences for occupiers of the estate and manage all income streams from such arrangements. Business Services Plus will provide soft and hard facilities management services, as specified in the council-wide SLA, including providing accommodation to meet the needs of all parts of the Council.
  • BU’s will contribute to the development of the Property Asset Strategy and adhere to the SLA requirements for notice periods for changes to accommodation requirements and termination of leases. BUs will have the flexibility to vary approaches to meet their different respective accommodation needs. BUs will use the accommodation space provided in Council buildings for BU employees, and potentially external Delivery Units. BUs will take full responsibility for the recovery of allocated costs—such as rates and service charges as identified by HQ—where Council property is used to support activity unrelated to Council business. BUs will ensure value for money from property through exploring innovative arrangements to share, shrink or grow the use of property.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Strategic Assets, Assurance HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Director of Assurance, HQ

 

Customer experience

What we are trying to achieve together:

  • Our customers are able to access information easily about Council and community services.
  • Our customers receive a timely and effective response to enquiries with a ‘get it right first time’ approach. We will support this through providing a single customer platform to enable customers to self-serve and better data to support a complete view of customer contact.
  • Consistent minimum customer standards applied across the organisation on the quality and timeliness of responses, helping us to improve the customer experience.
  • Ensuring that we continuously improve and learn from customer complaints. We will ensure that we have organisational data, including in relation to external contractors on the customer experience so that action can be taken on trends, as well as embedding customer feedback into standard contract management performance monitoring.
  • Our customers are able to access information easily about Council and community services.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Policies—HQ will drive forward the strategy for improving customer experience across the organisation, including leading on the delivery of the new Customer Standards Policy that sets out minimum customer standards. These minimum customer standards requirements will be passed down the supply chain to contractors and incorporated into the new Contract Requirements Procedure.
  • Specialist Expertise—HQ and BUs will work collaboratively to improve customer experience using customer insight and feedback to drive service improvements and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Customer Platform—HQ will lead in developing the Council’s approach to ensuring there is a complete view of how our customers transact with us, be it by self-service on the web, web chat or traditional routes like telephony or email. BUs will help design how this will work in practice, including ensuring that where it is not possible for a fully integrated IT solution that mechanisms are in place to ensure a complete view of customer contact can be achieved.
  • Insight—HQ will collate and analyse data to support customer insight. BUs will analyse customer data as well as providing this to other parts of the Council, including HQ to enhance organisational customer intelligence. HQ and BUs will work together in using the insight to design new services and drive improvements in current provision.
  • Compliments and Complaints—Members will have oversight of customer complaints through management information, coordinated by HQ, in their different capacity on committees such as Cabinet, Regulatory and Audit, and Select Committees. Complaints information will be made available by Cabinet Member political portfolio as well by Business Unit. The Customer, Information and Digital Board will consider as part of its remit the strategic handling of complaints information to drive customer improvements. HQ will set the framework to ensure organisational learning from complaints and coordinate complaint handling. Delivery Units are the first point of contact for customer contact as well as complaint handling on specific service issues to ensure that matters can be resolved effectively with the customer. Escalation processes will be set out in the Council’s complaints procedure.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Customer Experience and Communications, Strategy & Policy, HQ

Lead OCB Owner: Director of Strategy & Policy, HQ

 

Communications

What we are working to achieve together:

  • Communications activities are well-coordinated, cost-effective and designed around the needs of the audience.
  • Making sure communications are timely, responsive and relevant; clear, accurate and accessible; open, ethical and consistent.
  • Upholding our brand values so that the public know what we provide and how their council tax is used.

HQ and BUs will work together by

  • Policies—HQ will lead on the Council’s Communications and Branding Policy documents. BUs and HQ are accountable for implementation and compliance with the communications and branding policy documents by staff in-house and by external Delivery Units. These policies and procedures will be designed to be proportionate and flexible depending on the scale and type of Delivery Unit.
  • Decision-making—Members will take the decisions on the Council’s communications policy and procedures to support the delivery of the Strategic Plan outcomes. HQ will lead on delivery of the priority and cross-cutting Council communications campaigns/projects specified in an annual communications delivery plan; BUs will provide subject matter expertise to support these campaigns/projects. The delivery plan and any changes to it will be agreed via the One Council Board.
  • Joint Planning—HQ will maintain an organisation-wide communications calendar of significant communications activity across the Council and key partner organisations. HQ will also develop processes to maximise effective communications externally through considering the best timing for significant external communications initiatives. BUs will input into the calendar, providing timely information on emerging communications initiatives which their Delivery Units are planning to undertake (e.g. advertising, bulk letters to residents). This will enable opportunities for greater collaboration and an assessment of impact across the Council and potential economies of scale.
  • Specialist Expertise—HQ will provide specialist advice and expertise on communications to BUs (social marketing and behaviour change communications, media relations, branding, internal communications, digital communications, marketing for income generation). BUs will provide subject matter advice and expertise to manage reputational risk for the services and supply chains under their remit; and to support the delivery of the Council’s outcomes overall, for example providing inputs to a communications campaign led by another part of the Council.
  • Suppliers—HQ will manage a list of approved suppliers for communications projects which cannot be delivered by the in-house communications team. BUs and HQ must use approved suppliers from this list.
  • Web and Customer Communications Channels—HQ will provide a single Council website and other council-wide communications channels, which BUs will use.
  • Media—HQ will provide a single point of entry for all media enquiries relating to Council services, including out of hours and crisis communications support. BUs will ensure processes are in place so that they can respond swiftly to information and interview requests from HQ. The detail on how this will operate in practice will be set out in the Media Protocol Procedure.
  • Internal Communications—HQ will lead on defining council-wide messages and the delivery of council-wide internal communications channels. BUs will ensure that these messages are communicated effectively within their BU and to suppliers. BUs will handle ‘in service’ communications (e.g. messages relevant only to their own staff and supply chain.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Customer Experience and Communications, Strategy & Policy, HQ

Lead OCB Owner:  Director of Strategy & Policy, HQ

 

Data, digital and ICT

What we are working together to achieve:

  • Our customers are able to access information digitally and self-serve easily online for all their information and transactions with the Council and our supply chain.
  • Our ICT infrastructure supports and enables us to deliver our ambition of providing digital services that are so good that people want to use them.
  • Our ICT infrastructure provides a common platform for all parts of the Council to work together efficiently.
  • We utilize all of our data across the Council, with a presumption of open sharing of data internally so that we can work collaboratively to enhance the customer experience.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Policies—HQ will lead, and commission where appropriate, the development and updating of all of the Council’s data, digital and ICT policies, as well as commissioning the development of other supporting procedures. BUs will ensure these policies are implemented and that any new contracts and SLAs with third parties adhere to these requirements.
  • Decision-making—Significant capital investment decisions will be taken by the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, following the advice of the Asset Strategy Board. The Customer, Information and Digital Board will drive forward and oversee the development and delivery of the Council’s Digital Strategy, ensuring that the customer is at the heart of our business, that Future Shape digital savings are delivered, and that the Council achieves maximum return on its investment in digital transformation. This includes authorising spend on all customer-facing technology by Business Units across the organisation (and with commissioned service providers/partners) to ensure that existing technology is maximised; and that new technology meets the digital service standards and is integrated to deliver the optimum customer experience.
  • HQ will lead, with the support from Business Services Plus in advising decision-makers on the council -wide requirements for ICT. The Council’s core council-wide requirements for ICT will be set out in the SLA between Business Services Plus and other parts of the organisation. BUs may make a business case for the purchase and use of additional ICT systems to meet their needs. BUs may proceed with this purchase with the agreement of the appropriate professional lead officer in HQ and Business Services Plus. The details of how this process will work in practice will be developed and set out in a new supporting procedure.
  • Commissioning ICT & Digital Support—HQ commission core Digital & ICT services that the Council needs from Business Services Plus. Business Services Plus will provide guidance and specialist expertise on services, ICT support for projects, and delivery of BU Commercial Plans. Other BUs will lead on projects to digitalise services within their remit with the specialist support and guidance from HQ and Business Services Plus.
  • Specialist Expertise— HQ will provide specialist expertise to BUs on: managing and analysing data to deliver commissioning outcomes; cross-cutting intelligence; FOI and Data Protection; and digital tools and guidance to support delivery of the Digital Strategy. BUs will also provide peer advice in areas of subject specialist knowledge.
  • Sharing Data—HQ will have oversight of gaps in what business intelligence is required and will collate and analyse relevant cross-cutting data to support the Council as a whole. BUs will share data openly with other BUs and HQ, subject to data protection and data sharing procedures.
  • Sharing Intelligence/Insight—HQ and BUs will work together to create high quality intelligence and insight, created from internal and external data about issues affecting Buckinghamshire, that enables the Council to make evidence based decisions. HQ will set up a business Intelligence community of practice to bring together specialists from across the Council to support collaboration and best practice. HQ will have oversight of gaps in what business intelligence is required and will collate and analyse relevant cross-cutting data to support the Council as a whole.
  • Data Security—HQ will commission Business Services Plus to provide instruction and expertise to BUs on how to ensure that data is secure and shared in compliance with legal and organisational requirements. BUs and HQ will ensure that data held by them is secure, and that contracts with suppliers include appropriate clauses on data security, and that issues are escalated appropriately in the event of non-compliance with the Council’s policies, procedures and statutory obligations.
  • Data Quality—HQ will lead on the development and delivery of the Data Quality Strategy, including that the organisation has a single source of accurate raw data. Each BU is accountable for the quality of the data inputs recorded within their area of remit.
  • Infrastructure—HQ will commission the core ICT infrastructure to enable BUs and HQ to innovate and improve customer service through use of common technology and sharing data effectively. BUs will use this infrastructure and may submit business cases for additional infrastructure (as set out above).

 

Lead Professional Officer: Director for Digital & ICT, BSP
Head of Business Intelligence, Strategy & Policy, HQ (Data)

 

Our People

What we are working together to achieve:

  • A flexible reward framework to enable Business Units to respond to market conditions to support the recruitment and retention of staff.
  • Robust talent management and succession planning that enables us to retain and deploy talent more effectively.
  • Improved performance management and staff engagement via confident and competent leadership throughout the organisation.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Policies—HQ will develop and have ownership of the Council’s People Strategy and accompanying Human Resources procedures. This includes setting procedures covering performance (Delivering Successful Performance) and reward (Contribution Based Pay), grievance, conduct and discipline, capability (performance), capability (ill-health) and health and safety. BUs will implement these in respect of all staff directly employed by the Council.
  • Handbook—HQ will provide an Employee Handbook setting out the organisation’s mandatory requirements and signposting to guidance. Best practice toolkits will be produced to support BUs in managing people issues.
  • Pay and Reward—HQ will advise the Senior Appointments and Bucks Pay Award Committee (SABPAC) on the pay of all Council employees. HQ will have ownership of the Council’s performance management framework (Delivering Successful Performance) and reward framework (Contribution Based Pay). BUs will implement these frameworks for all BCC employees within its remit.
  • Commissioning—HQ will commission Business Services Plus to provide guidance and specialist expertise to BUs on human resources. The service standards that BUs can expect to receive will be set out in an SLA. BUs are accountable for the effective management of their staff and may seek and utilise advice as needed. Business Services Plus will broker external human resources support for HQ & BUs if this is not possible to provide this from within the capabilities in-house.
  • Values and Behaviours—The Council’s expectations on Values and Behaviours are set out in the People Strategy. It is the joint responsibility of HQ and BUs to demonstrate, communicate and embed these into day-to-day work. HQ will commission activities and provide guidance to support managers and employees to demonstrate our values and behaviours and work in partnership with HQ to embed them.
  • Cultural Change—HQ will lead and coordinate whole Council cultural change programmes for employees as determined by the One Council Board. BUs will support and promote the programmes and encourage staff to participate in them.
  • Employee Development and Skills—HQ will have ownership of the Council’s Talent Management Plan and will commission a Council wide skills programme that delivers this plan. BUs will support and promote the plan and encourage employees to participate in the programme (and comply where this is mandatory). BUs will ensure that its employees either have the required skills, values and behaviours expected, or are supported to develop these.
  • Engagement—Employee engagement is the responsibility of all managers. HQ will support managers and coordinate a bi-annual staff engagement survey (Viewpoint) and regular Viewpoint Pulse Surveys. BUs will engage their staff in BU specific and Council-wide initiatives, by ensuring that employees participate in cross-cutting projects, networks and via the completion of the Viewpoint Survey.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of People & OD, Enterprise, HQ

 

Assurance and risk management

What we are trying to achieve:

  • To have a robust assurance and risk management approach to support good organisational governance, in particular to provide Members via the Council’s Regulatory and Audit Committee with assurances that processes are in place to ensure all key areas of the council’s business are managed appropriately and legally.
  • To drive forward a risk-aware organisational culture so that employees are enabled to innovate and take opportunities—managing risks appropriately.

HQ and BUs will work together by:

  • Policies and Governance—The Regulatory and Audit Committee will maintain an oversight of assurance and risk management across the Council. HQ will maintain the mandatory Risk Management system and will lead in developing and having strategic oversight of assurance and risk, including advice to Members and the One Council Board. BUs will be responsible for updating the Risk Management System in accordance with the Assurance and Risk Strategy, providing HQ with visibility of all risks; and implementing any organisational requirements set out in the Council’s policies. BUs will provide Internal Audit with the information required and implement management actions agreed through the Internal Audit process and overseen by the Regulatory and Audit Committee. Other parts of the Council’s governance framework also support organisational assurance. Select Committees have a key role to play in supporting public accountability, through their independent role in providing a check and challenge to decision-makers.
  • Specialist Expertise—HQ will provide specialist expertise to BUs on different aspects of assurance and risk, such as to advice on risk assessments, risk mitigation and the adequacy of the systems of internal control in place. HQ will provide best practice guidance and templates on the recording and management of risks. BUs will be able to request specialist expertise from HQ as and when needed.
  • Risk Management—HQ will lead on setting the framework for risk management. BUs may develop their own local processes to manage risk, in line with organisational requirements. BUs will record and report risks routinely for monitoring by the Regulatory and Audit Committee through the Risk Management Group and for escalation to the One Council Board and HQ in accordance with the Risk and Assurance Strategy.
  • Internal Controls— HQ will lead on the oversight and monitoring of compliance across the organisation with minimum requirements set out in the Operating Framework and other supporting policy documents listed in the Policy Register (e.g. Financial Procedures, ICT Procedures). Any additional BU designed key controls (such as financial, HR, legal) are subject to approval of the professional leads in the organisation (e.g. S151 officer). BUs and HQ will be required to maintain systems of management control and performance management to ensure compliance with corporate and additional BU specific systems of internal control.
  • Anti-Fraud and Corruption–HQ, via the Chief Internal Auditor, will lead on corporate fraud response and monitoring the implementation of the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy, particularly in relation to any reported allegations or detection of fraud. HQ and BUs will follow the Strategy and procedures, reporting any concerns of suspected fraud or financial irregularity/error to the Director of Assurance and/or Chief Internal Auditor.
  • Compliance with the Operating Framework—HQ will provide the One Council Board and Regulatory and Audit Committee with quarterly exception reports on compliance with the Operating Framework. BUs are responsible for carrying out regular self-assessments and taking action to implement the Operating Framework.
  • Governance Statements HQ will lead on the co-ordination of the Annual Governance Statement and Combined Assurance Reports for each of the BUs. BU Managing Directors and Finance Directors will be required to provide Management Assurance Statements to the Director of Assurance in line with reporting requirements set out in the Assurance and Risk Strategy.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Business Assurance (Chief Internal Auditor)

Resilience

What we are trying to achieve together:

  • That the Council is ready to respond to any emergencies in a timely and appropriate manner to support individuals and communities.
  • Effective Business Continuity Management arrangements, including Business Continuity Plans, are in place across the Council and each of its service providers, to ensure the continuation of critical service delivery in the event of an emergency.

 

  • Policies—HQ will have oversight of the Council’s policies and procedures to discharge its statutory duties regarding emergency management and business continuity management).
  • Specialist Expertise—The Communities, Health and Adult Social Care (CHASC) BU will provide lead in Council assurance for the BCM and EM Policy, including guidance across the organisation. The BU will provide an offer of expertise to external Delivery Units and the business community and voluntary and community sector. BUs and HQ are accountable for all aspects of emergency management and business continuity local planning for their areas.
  • Emergency Management—The CHASCBU will lead in the strategy for preparing how the Council, with partners, will respond in the event of a crisis emergency. It will coordinate council-wide emergency planning exercises. Other BUs and HQ will ensure that sufficient local resources and capabilities are in place to respond to an emergency event. All BUs and HQ will prepare operational emergency plans where required to respond to an emergency in the community. All BUs and HQ will participate in council-wide emergency planning exercises.
  • Business Continuity—HQ will be responsible for the strategic oversight of business continuity. The CHASC BU will provide the corporate support the delivery of business continuity activity across the Council. All BUs & HQ are responsible for business continuity in their own areas.
  • Delivery Units—All BUs and HQ will ensure that the Council’s requirements on emergency management and business continuity are included in new contracts. BUs & HQ are responsible for ensuring local supplier emergency and business continuity plans are in place and monitored appropriately through contract management arrangements.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Head of Community Safety & Resilience, CHASC BU

Lead OCB Owner: Managing Director CHASC

 

Health and safety

What we are trying to achieve together:

  • Ensuring that staff and customers are safe and that the Council’s legal responsibilities in relation to health and safety are met.
  • Policies—HQ will have oversight of the Council’s policies and procedures to discharge its statutory duties regarding health and safety. BSP on behalf of the organisation is the respective policy owner.
  • Specialist Expertise—BSP will provide specialist advice on Health & Safety in accordance with agreed policies and procedures. There are different levels of responsibility for health and safety which all managers have. These responsibilities are set out in detail in the procedures and guidance documents available to all staff on the intranet and maintained and updated by the respective policy owner.

 

Lead Professional Officer: Principle Health & Safety Co-ordinator, BSP

Lead OCB Owner: Managing Director, Enterprise & BSP

 

Appendix 1: Business Services Plus

Where there is a business proposition to do so, a number of services will continue to be delivered on a council-wide basis to BUs and to the HQ Units by Business Services Plus.

Main Shared Service Functions

In designing the Business Unit three distinct functions have been created:

  1. A Commercial and Business Development Function which will lead on commercial relationships, oversee contracts held by the BU, business plan development, identifying and following up on new business opportunities, customer relationship management.
  2. A Consultancy function which will lead on the professional and advisory support to customers
  3. Operational services which will lead on delivering high quality operational and transactional services to customers.

The following is a list (not exhaustive) of the main shared service functions being delivered by BSP at the current time (under review).

1. Financial Advisory & Transactions Services (including invoice payments, debt recovery, pension administration). 
2. Human Resources Services (including employee relations, change management and resourcing and safeguarding in employment, payroll, etc.).
3. ICT Services (including major ICT systems and information security provision, hardware, generic software, specialist software, telephony, email). Current ICT core provision includes:

  • PSN: This is our network infrastructure that allows us to connect and communicate with each other and partners.
  • Website and intranet: These are our tools for sharing online content with customers and each other.
  • SAP: This is the council’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for the management of core business processes.
  • Support Works: This is our system for logging, tracking and managing requests to the Service Desk.
  • Mod Gov: This is the specialist software designed to help the council manage agendas, papers and decisions effectively.
  • Contract Management Application (CMA): This is the Council’s digital contract register and system to record, monitor and manage all Council contracts.

4. Procurement and Contract Management Support (including the use of the Contract Management Application). 
5. Business Administrative Support.
6. Customer Contact Services (including customer information services, complaint and information handling and the Contact Centre).
7. Facilities Management services (including the post room). 
8. Project Management Services. 
9. Legal Services.

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