Home secretary Theresa May creates a new Border security force

Theresa May announces a restructuring of the Border Agency. Her announcement coincided with release of the Vine report into border security checks. The links between the report and the Home Secretary’s announcement seem rather loose

Although the Vine Report into Border Security and the Ministerial announcement were made simultaneously, they are quite different in focus.

The Minister indicates that she accepts “all the recommendations of the report”, but makes it less clear that her proposal is not based on the report, which offers operational ‘fixes’ rather than strategic ones.

The ministerial announcement concentrates on a reorganization which splits the Agency into two. In organizational terms it is an attempt to differentiate structures and activities to reflect a major distinction between two groupings. The Vine report is strictly operational, and makes no strategic recommendations.

The BBC reported the announcement by the Home Secretary [20th Feb 2012] :

“The Vine report reveals a Border Force that suspended important checks without permission; that spent millions on new technologies but chose not to use them; that was led by managers who did not communicate with their staff; and that sent reports to ministers that were inaccurate, unbalanced and excluded key information. The Vine report makes a series of recommendations about how to improve the operation at the border, and I accept them all. I do not believe the answer to the very significant problems exposed in the Vine Report is just a series of management changes.
The Border Force needs a whole new management culture. There is no getting away from the fact that UKBA, of which the Border Force is part, has been a troubled organisation since it was founded in 2008. From foreign national prisoners to the asylum backlog to the removal of illegal immigrants, it has reacted to a series of problems instead of positively managing its responsibilities.
The extent of the transformational change required – in the agency’s caseworking functions and in the Border Force – is too great for one organisation. [The Border Force is to] become a separate operational command, with its own ethos of law enforcement, led by its own director general, and accountable directly to ministers”

How to Create Organizational Silos

MBA students will recall how this sort of change has major organizational consequences which have been well-documented since at least the 1960s. They may also recall the dilemmas of centralizing and decentralizing control over business activities, and how any such differentiation risks creating organizational ‘silos’.

How to Deal with Potential Silos

Implicitly, the change will not work if it adds a layer to what may be seen as a classical organizational pyramid. The traditional structures are now recognised as too inflexible to function in fast-changing environments. In any change programme, the new system requires designed-in ways permitting integration so that there is valuable communication flow between the two sub-systems.

To be continued …

See background in an earlier LWD post

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