Scrutiny Induction, Rhodri, Silent Camp fpsd#7

Freelance Public Servant Diary #7

Workwise

One of the things I’ve been doing this week is preparing for the scrutiny sessions we will be doing as part of the Council’s councillor induction programme. Is it really 5 years since the last ones we ran! (yes Welsh Local Elections now run on a five year cycle)

The sessions will certainly be interactive — we had plenty of feedback last time that one way communication (generally via powerpoint slides full of text) was hard work for councillors to engage with.

I’m also looking to design the sessions in a way that councillors can see how being involved in scrutiny can help them with the things they hope to achieve as a councillor — well, that’s the idea anyway.

At the end we plan to wrap up the materials we use as well as the questions / comments raised at the sessions, into a ‘guide for scrutiny councillors’ — I guess this is an example of co-creating.

Finally, worth noting that our scrutiny sessions are quite a long time after the local elections. This follows something that we picked up from the Assembly — that training sessions should be just in time — we wanted the scrutiny induction sessions to be just before the actual meetings started so that things would be fresh in people’s minds. Turns out that being later on also means that the sessions are after the general election — I think this will be helpful for many of our councillors out on the campaign trail.

This week I was also part of a group invited to talk to Good Practice WAO about their work planning for the year ahead. Without going into details it’s a nice model I think — maybe scrutineers and other public governors should think about having conversations with a wider group of stakeholders when planning work? Maybe you do already?

Democracy

I was very sad to hear that Rhodri Morgan had passed away. A popular politician here in Wales and a great public servant. I have heard him speak a couple of times at conferences and, although I never met him, I was very proud to have received my PhD from him. Although I was a bit taken aback when he asked me, in front of the packed hall, if I could summarise my PhD in two minutes! (I took about 10 seconds) This piece about Rhodri Morgan by Laura McAllister is really good.

Transition to Freelance

I had a catch up with Ben Proctor and was able to test out some of my solution focussed ideas with him (sorry Ben…). It was also interesting hear a little about his experiences as a board member for a housing trust. Afterwards I was reflecting that I must know a lot of people who are ‘governors’ of one kind or another and that I could learns lots from them in terms of researching public governance more generally.

Reading

The Centre for Public Scrutiny have published a really useful guide to using evidence for scrutiny. Ed Hammond introduces it here.

Government Doesn’t Have a Tech Problem — Tech Doesn’t Understand Government by Nick Bowden is a great reminder why you can’t introduce new tech without thinking about workflow (thanks Dominic Campbell for sharing).

Neil Tamplin’s Weekly Brain Dump #28 picks up on Ben Proctor’s intriguing SilentCamp idea — Ben explained this to me earlier in the week as a kind og govcamp for introverts — I know Ben is pushing on with this and I think it’s genius!

Events

This event: ✊Democracy #LOL :) : digital participation in local governance looks cool. It involves INLOGOV and the Democratic Society. Details here.