April Fool

When I first read the news on Kable that Sir Peter Gershon, ex-head of the OGC and former government adviser, was now advising the Conservative Party to outsource all back office functions, I thought it was an early April Fool!

The Financial Times also seemed a bit surprised by his transfer of allegiance to the Conservative Party and their ideology, reprinting some of his old quotes, when still a “mandarin”.

Perhaps what annoys me is that he is still pushing the adage that outsourcing the back office will save money. Who is he working for now? EDS, IBM, Capita? All that happens when you transfer the back office outside local control is that the government continues to pay though the nose for the existing service and the citizen gets a raw deal as the private sector tries to make bigger profits.

OK, the services are taking time to change. The answer is not to outsource a process heavy system but to pick prime applications that are ready for improvement and look at them end-to-end, particularly from the view of the citizen, then change them to be better for the citizen, whilst reducing the density of process and resultant cost overhead. The saving can then go into the public purse not the shareholder pocket!

We’ve been kicking this one around for over ten years now. Transformational government is not about delivering electronic services, it’s about improving the whole process, the fact that web front-ends or call centres appear should only happen when the process is examined for defect or variation.

Go on Peter, pull the other one!


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