Awards 2003: Public Sector Annual Report

Judges were looking for annual reports that showed evidence of success in overall clarity of presentation, ease of reading, corporate governance, future drivers and key organisation drivers.

The government office of the UK Passport Service provided annual accounts that were both ‘good and informative’ in the eyes of the judges and provided a ‘jolly easy read’- not something often said about such a document.

It is also not something generally said about a government report, normally the bastion of unintelligibility and long-windedness.

The Passport Service’s report also avoided another common trap – putting all its effort into a ‘pretty document’ devoid of useful information.

Instead, all information in the report is carefully laid out with good use made of simple charts and graphs to illustrate key information. These are combined with uncomplicated explanations and comments from customers.

Right at the beginning, the foreword by its chief executive Bernard Herdan is short and to the point, including a quick summary of the UK Passport Service’s achievements, challenges that lie ahead and future plans.

Headings like ‘our mission’, ‘objectives’ and ‘structure’ in the introduction are clearly set out in bold type, with key points made using bullet points and quotes in blue italics.

Looking more closely at the details of the report, there is an entire page dedicated to planning priorities for the coming year, including a summary of information about customer service, quality and security, efficiency and finance and innovation and development.

Just one page is dedicated to key performance indicators, but a simple pie chart and bullet points provide all the necessary information.

A large amount of space is then dedicated to providing detailed information about fraud prevention programmes and quality improvement, with one judge making the rather extraordinary comment that he had ‘actually learnt something new’ by reading the report.

The Passport Service also demonstrated the importance of corporate governance with details about strengthening its internal controls and risk management systems.

In addition, the report provides information about its staff policies including the implementation of such things as a staff suggestion scheme, efforts made to improve the working environment and steps taken to reward, motivate and organise staff effectively.

Again, all this is well illustrated with easy-to-read and colourful charts and graphs.

Importantly, for a government office, the report contains details of green policies, an ever-important issue in a more environmentally conscious business community.

Lastly, the hard figures are presented at the back of the book, using large amounts of wide space to allow for improved readability.

Innovation extends all the way through the report, from the front page to the back. This is highlighted by a tear-out feedback form, which asks readers to share their feelings on the report, as well as make suggestions for improvement in next year’s publication.

Good ideas will undoubtedly be incorporated.

Other shortlisted candidates:

  • Companies House
  • HM Prison Service.

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