Sarah Wood FCCA, programme director, National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning, run by the Improvement and Development Agency for the Government’s Office of the Third Sector.
Q. What are your biggest challenges?
A. Securing the commitment of public services commissioners to our programme to increase the use of the third sector to deliver services. Ensuring the programme meets the needs of public services commissioners. Ensuring the programme’s sustainability as it moves to its second phase.
Q. What is your approach in tackling these challenges?
A. By making contact with commissioners and trying to understand their needs and constraints. Responding to and acting on the feedback to the programme’s work. Commissioning research to understand the impact of our work and to plan its next phase.
Q. What are the main barriers to the public sector/third sector relationship?
A. There is a lack of understanding of third sector capabilities by some of the public sector and of what the law and regulations allow them to do in designing and commissioning services and when they can provide grants rather than commission services. Competing demands on commissioners’ time and resources are made worse by current economic difficulties.
Q. What is the main opportunity to develop the relationship?
A. Working together through projects such as the National Programme and at local level through the Improvement and Development Agency’s Performance Improvement Programme, which brings local agencies together to address local issues. By persevering and committing time, money and energy over a sustained period of time we can embed changes in the culture of organisations.
Q. What really bugs you?
A. People who only see the negative side. They start with no rather than yes. People who would rather see things fail than make them a success.
Q. How does your FCCA help you?
A. It gives me the professional knowledge and skills to meet my challenges in a constructive manner.
Former jobs: Director of Economic and Environmental Policy, Local Government Association; Director of Finance and Strategic Director of Resources, Birmingham City Council; Deputy Chief Executive, Glasgow City Council; Commissioner of the Public Works Loan Board.