Annual Report and Accounts 1999-2000
To improve the Agency's business processes and operations in order to:
provide a better service closer to customers; and
deliver Modernising Government objectives.
During the year the Agency fully embraced the challenges contained in the White Paper on Modernising Government (Cm 4310 - March 1999), and responded energetically to the Report to the Prime Minister (Link to Cabinet Office) from Sir Richard Wilson, Head of the Home Civil Service on the issue of Civil Service Reform.
established its own Modernising Government Programme Board to co-ordinate and integrate the various programmes and projects associated with change across the Agency;
organised an annual Business Activity Resource Planning exercise around the modernising agenda; and
produced plans to translate strategic objectives into concrete actions.
The modernising agenda encompasses many aspects of the Agency's activities. Areas where actions are planned or already initiated include:
creation of eight Regional Consultative Panels;
creation of a Racial Equality Advisory Group and new diversity targets;
further development and improvement of the Agency's Internet site;
use of scenario planning for the impacts arising from digital technology convergence;
together with Radio Spectrum International (RSI), development of IS and e-business strategies;
development of a Human Resource Management strategy;
improvements in internal communications through roll-out of an Agency intranet; implementation of recommendations contained in a corporate communications audit; and
development of a leadership development programme. Four important overriding themes emerged from the modernising and Civil Service reform agenda during the year:
These themes are likely to set the framework for future activities, and represent the focus for the Modernising Government Programme Board.
Targets for 2000/2001
Issue of Licences
Quality of service targets are reviewed annually to take into account performance achieved and customers' views.
Ministers have approved quality of service targets for 2000/2001 as follows:
|Category A||Category B||Category C|
|Licences that involve no frequency assignment, site clearance or international co-ordination:||Licences that involve frequency assignment but no site clearance or international co-ordination:||Licences that require frequency assignment and site clearance and/or international co-ordination:|
|Aircraft and Aeronautical||Coastal Station radio||Licences coming under category B where site clearance and/or international co-ordination required, e.g. PBR standard, Private Wide Area Paging|
|Amateur and Citizens' Band||Local Communications||Fixed Links (other than 58 GHz)|
|Fixed Links (58 GHz)||Private Business Radio Standard (P1 and P2)||Point to multipoint services (31 GHz)|
|Local Authority Emergency Alarms||Private Business Radio On-Site (P1 and P2)||Scanning telemetry|
|Private Business Radio -Suppliers||Private Business Radio Wide Area||Common Base Stations|
|Private Business Radio - Road Construction||Private Business Radio National & Regional|
|Radio Paging Standard - On-Site||Private Wide Area Paging|
|Ship Radio||Programme Making & Special|
|100% of licence applications for new or varied services to be awarded or rejected (with explanation) within five working days.||Events 90% of licence applications for new or varied services to be awarded or rejected (with explanation) within 15 working days; and the remainder to be awarded or rejected within 25 working days or an explanation of the delay to be given.||90% of licence applications for new or varied services to be awarded or rejected (with explanation) within 40 working days; and the remainder to be awarded or rejected within 60 working days or an explanation of the delay to be given.|
These targets are no longer included for 2000/2001 as this is now an automated process.
Communicating with customers
The Agency has recognised and well-established consultative arrangements which involve industry, business associations and individual customers. Their views provide important contributions as we develop spectrum strategy, plan for licence fee changes, and formulate national and international policy.
The Agency has made changes to the organisational structure of its Regional Offices following the establishment of the new Devolved Administrations. A new Region has been set up encompassing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will enable the Agency to focus on, and work directly with the Devolved Administrations.
Local frequency assignment
The Agency continues to strive to improve the delivery of local services. With the introduction of Spectrum Pricing, administrative staff changes have been made within the Agency's local licensing centres to improve the customer interface. Each licensing centre now has a Customer Support Manager, with the prime responsibility of ensuring that the licensing function operates smoothly and customers receive good service.
Local Customer Panels have been established for all eight of the Agency's Local Licensing Centres. A panel comprises a cross-section of our customers and acts as a forum for the Agency to get across its policies at a local level, and to hear customers' views of its services.
Customer Liaison Unit
The Customer Liaison Unit was established in July 1999 when RULES was launched. It is responsible for the collection of licence renewal fees from all RULES customers and also to act as a first point of contact for customers with enquiries related to the renewal of their licence(s).
The introduction of both RULES and the Customer Liaison Unit has enabled the Agency's procedures for licence fee collection and revocation for non payment of renewal fees to be unified and streamlined across all sectors of licensing.
The Agency is working towards the current government-wide target to make 100% of services available to the public by electronic means by 2005. An e-business champion has been appointed at Board level with responsibility for achieving the Agency's objectives in this area, which are not only to meet the target, but to exceed it, for spectrum management reasons.
During the year the Agency's Fixed Links Licensing Unit has been working on the preparations for delivery of its licensing services via the Internet. Building on the new unified licensing systems (RULES and related fixed link and accounting systems), a pilot trial of "e-services" for fixed link licensing is being developed. The intention is to extend the trials to other licensing sectors with the aim of enabling all routine licensing transactions to be done on-line by 2004.
The Spectrum Management Advisory Group (SMAG)
SMAG's purpose is to provide independent, strategic advice on spectrum management policy issues to the responsible DTI Minister and the Radiocommunications Agency. This year, SMAG has continued to examine a number of key spectrum issues and to broaden its dialogue with users. Major issues have included broadband wireless, TETRA, the economic impact of radio, short range wireless, two-way paging, the future spectrum needs of broadcasting and mobile services and the World Radio Conference 2000. SMAG has become increasingly involved with international issues and has begun a fruitful dialogue with the European Commission, which announced plans to establish a European equivalent of SMAG as part of its wider review of radio spectrum policy in November 1999.
|The chairman (Dr John Forrest, seated, right) and members of SMAG, with Patricia Hewitt MP.|
Table 2.1: Performance against Ministerial Quality of Service Targets
|Volume of cases||1999/00||1998/99||1997/98||1996/97|
|Licence Category A1|
|Applications & amendments||100% in 5 days||36,000||99%||100%||100%||98%|
|Licence Category B|
|Applications & amendments||>= 90% in 15 days||17,000||98%||99%||97%||96%|
|remainder in 25 days||1%||1%||1%||2%|
|Licence Category C2|
|Applications & amendments||>= 90% in 40 days||4,700||34%||91%||86%||93%|
|remainder in 60 days||65%||7%||14%||7%|
|Category A||100% in 5 days||125,000||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|Categories B & C||100% in 10 days||9,000||90%||94%||98%||69%|
|Safety of life||100% in 24 hours||455||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|Business services||98% in 5 days||1,318||100%||100%||100%||99%|
|remainder in 15 days||0%||0%|
|Domestic TV & radio||98% in 1 month||3,363||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|remainder in 2 months||0%||0%|
|Chief Executive's Correspondence4||100% in 10 days||12||92%||100%||89%||100%|
|95% in 30 seconds||60,183||96%||95%|
|92% in 30 seconds||97%||97%|
|100% in 30 days||10,645||100%|
|97.5% in 30 days||99%|
|remainder in 60 days||1%|
|95% in 30 days||96%||95%|
1. See p.18. 100% performance was recorded during a fortnight in July 1999 for those licensing categories involved in the changeover to the RULES system (p. 23). This ensures that achievement against target does not suffer because of the changeover.
2. The licensing of non-58 GHz fixed links was affected by the implementation of and continuing problems with the FiLSM system. Improvements are being made as the assignment backlog is cleared.
3. See p.33
4. The Chief Executive's target is to respond within 10 working days to all letters from Members of Parliament delegated to him by Ministers for reply and to all complaints addressed to him about the Agency's services.
Table 2.2: Performance against Service First Standards 1999/2000
|To respond to all letters, except for formal complaints, within 15 working days.||The standard was met in 98% of cases.|
|To see callers within minutes of their appointment time.||10 Met in 100% of cases.|
|To provide information and a telephone enquiry point||The Agency makes all its information (annual reports, information sheets, consultative documents, technical specifications) available free of charge on request. They are also accessible on its website. The Agency has a published telephone number and address for enquiries. The enquiry point is manned during office hours and there is a 24-hour automatic call handling system. During the year Enquiry Officers dealt with 60,183 enquiries (12% down on last year) and succeeded in meeting their target of answering 95% of all calls within 30 seconds of the caller electing to speak to an operator.|
|To consult users and report on findings||As described in more detail below, the Agency produces consultative documents on a regular basis. These are published on the Agency's website and in hard copy, free of charge. Responses to consultations are routinely published except where confidentiality is requested. The Agency runs a series of roadshows each year and welcomes feedback from customers, and there are also a number of local Customer Panels enabling a two-way flow of communication between the Agency at local level and its customers.|
|To have a formal complaints procedure||The Agency has a formal complaints procedure, details of which are published in hard copy and on its web site. If Agency staff cannot resolve the issue, the complaint can be referred upwards to the Chief Executive and the Agency Steering Board.|
|To make services accessible||In addition to making publications available in hard copy and electronically, the Agency makes its services accessible through its network of local offices. It also provides access for people with impaired hearing through the DTI's text telephone service.|
This trial will look at the potential for interactive assignment of frequencies and is addressing issues such as payment methods. We plan to develop an area within the RA website to provide advice, application forms and other associated information.
The RA website (www.radio.gov.uk)
The website is becoming the Agency's primary channel of communication with its customers as well as a powerful tool to increase awareness of the Agency. All Agency publications are put on the website concurrently with, or sometimes in advance of, paper publication. These publications include all current information sheets and equipment specifications, application forms, the Annual Report and Accounts, research reports produced by and for the Agency, press releases, newsletters and consultation papers. We invite online responses to consultation papers.
The Contact Us part of the website allows enquirers to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with comments about the website and email@example.com with general enquiries about the Agency's work, as well as several other addresses for more specific enquiries.
To coincide with our move to Wyndham House in August 1999 the website was relaunched. We changed the style of the site, added a site-specific search engine (which was upgraded in January 2000) and implemented our new web address www.radio.gov.uk. The redesign of the home page made it quicker to load and more accessible to vision-impaired users. Many more links were added, including links to all our equivalent regulatory bodies overseas.
|Table 2.3: RA website weekly "hits for pages" April 1999 - March 2000|
The website was nominated for the Government Web site Awards 2000, a competition judged by independent assessors to identify good practice and reward the best sites in each of two categories. The RA website was one of the four sites shortlisted in its category.
"Hits" to the Agency's website continued to increase, rising from 14,886 in April 1999 to 33,663 in March 2000. The trend towards electronic provision of information continued in the year 1999/2000; the Agency sent out 16% fewer publications in hard copy than in the previous year, (42% down on two years ago), and the Enquiry Point took 12% fewer telephone calls than in the previous year.
Looking to the future, we are exploring how we can use the Internet more creatively to further improve communications with our customers and colleagues. Future developments are likely to include interactive forms and frequency assignment facilities, improved dialogue and consultation with a broad sector of the public, and the continuing development of dynamic web pages in spectrum auction areas.
Roadshows and exhibitions
The Agency runs an annual publicity programme so that we can make face-to face contact with our customers and to enable them to discuss issues with us. In autumn 1999 we held a series of nine roadshows around the country, including Belfast and Glasgow, as well as a very well-attended event in Central London. These events included presentations by the Chief Executive, senior staff and Regional Managers, followed by lunch and time to talk informally with the presenters and with local RA staff members.
We also attended 22 exhibitions during the year, including Truckfest 1999, the London and Southampton Boat Shows, the Production Show and the Amateur Radio rally at Longleat. These events give licensees the opportunity to meet RA staff, to ask questions and discuss topics of interest, and help to raise awareness of the Agency's role.
RULES: progress on the project
The first stage of the implementation of the RULES project took place on 13 July 1999, coupled to the introduction of phase 2 of Spectrum Pricing. The RULES project has introduced new business practices across the Agency to produce a unified, customer-based system, ensuring consistency in the Agency's business dealings with customers.
The successful conversion of all licence data into a new customer and licence structure in RULES for over 60,000 licensees in the Private Business, Public Networks and Maritime licence classes was a major success story.
Some teething problems have occurred since the launch of RULES, but have been of a scale to be expected in such a major project. These are being identified and successfully corrected. The introduction of RULES in July 1999 was not the end of the project, indeed only the beginning. During the year the work of the Technology Sectors Unit, the Conformity Assessment certificate issuing process and Test and Development licensing were all successfully transferred onto RULES.
Aeronautical licensing will be on RULES by mid-2000, and work is under way in other areas of the Agency to combine all remaining licence types within the RULES system.
|The RA stand at the London Boat Show in January 2000|
Amateur and Citizen's Band Radio
The Agency continues to develop and enhance services for the benefit of existing licensees and prospective newcomers to the hobby. We meet with the BCBC (British Citizens' Band Confederation) and the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) on a regular basis to discuss areas of mutual interest, and have attended a number of events this year to further improve both communication and licence awareness within amateur and CB Radio. The Radio Licensing Centre of the Post Office (formerly known as SSL) has been awarded a further contract for distributing Amateur and CB Radio licences on the Agency's behalf.
The CB Data working group has discussed and identified two channels which could be used for the possible introduction of a simple CB data system on a one-to-one basis. The channels under consideration fall within the existing CEPT slots. To measure customers' enthusiasm for this, a limited canvass has been conducted and results are expected to be published in Autumn 2000.
The Agency spent some time looking at ways in which CB and Amateur Radio might be brought closer together, and as a result a number of changes were introduced. Under-21's will be exempted from paying the CB licence fee and voluntary call signs are to be introduced.
Radio use at the Millennium Dome
During the course of the construction of the Dome local Agency staff were involved in ensuring there were no co-channel radio problems between contractors working on site.
Day to day management of the site, show organisation and 30-50 boats a day docking at the site means that the demand for radio use continues at a very high level.
|The Tetra system in the Dome operates at 380 - 400 MHz, using nearly 1000 Simoco handportable radios. Power levels across the site are kept low to prevent interference between the many radio systems in use|
This year we introduced a new category of licence (Class A/B) which allows access to the high frequency (HF) amateur radio bands, with a reduced Morse test speed of 5 words per minute. The introduction of the Class A/B licence is an interim measure in preparation for moving towards a more incentive-based licensing system in the future.
|Stuart Perry operates the new RTCG amateur radio station|
In response to requests from our customers, we have facilitated interconnection between amateur radio equipment and the Internet; licensees can now apply to the Agency for this new facility. Work is continuing on streamlining processes for additional facilities such as repeaters and mailboxes.
The Agency promotes the Young Amateur of the Year Award which rewards the most outstanding achievement by a young amateur radio enthusiast and is open to anyone under 18 years of age. This annual competition is run in conjunction with the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), but as we are currently reviewing the scheme, there will not be a competition in 2000. With the RSGB, we aim to develop an overall package which will help to attract young people into amateur radio. As part of this commitment the Agency will be donating a van, formerly used by the Baldock Monitoring Station, to the RSGB in order to promote the hobby within schools.
Aeronautical and maritime
The Agency has worked hard to improve its communication with customers and to increase licensing awareness in Aeronautical and Maritime circles, attending a number of shows and exhibitions throughout the country and conducting awareness campaigns at marinas along the Welsh and North East Coast. The Agency is working with the Civil Aviation Authority to streamline the licence application process for aeronautical customers. A new contractor, The Radio Licensing Centre of the Post Office, has been appointed to distribute ship radio licences on the Agency's behalf.
Spectrum Quality Management System
The Agency has started work on a Spectrum Quality Management System that will allow it to provide a better service to its customers, by introducing controlled business processes that will make it easier to track the progress of all interference investigations and enforcement work.
Radio use at the Thames Barrier
Ships navigating on the Thames are monitored by vessel traffic services operated by the Port of London Authority (PLA) from the Thames Barrier Navigation Centre and Gravesend. The PLA is licensed for its use of marine radio by the Agency. The Thames Barrier Navigation Control Centre (TBNC) uses eleven marine radio channels, eight remote radar units (connected to the TBNC by radio link)and one local radar unit as well as tidal gauges, scanning telemetry units and Global Maritime and Distress Safety Systems. This radio use ensures safe passage through the Barrier for 70-150 vessels per day, plus a further 100 pleasure vessels per day at weekends. A further six VHF and UHF land mobile frequencies are available for use by the Environment Agency for operational, maintenance and security purposes.
|Charlton radar station is used to control vessel movements through the Thames Barrier. It is linked to the Thames Barrier Navigation Centre at Woolwich by a 1.4GHz line of sight digital microwave link|