Professor Colin Talbot of Manchester University published a White Paper on the 9 August entitled ‘Standards for Public Performance Monitoring’. (9 pages, open format). Whilst there is nothing new in expecting government to be open and transparent, this paper does at least lay out a path where by employing a standard format, all government agencies when presenting data to government, the citizen or auditors would be making sure that it was able to be examined in parallel with previous and future submissions.
As Professor Talbot has stated about government claims of efficiency savings, they need to be proved that we are talking about ‘efficiency’ and not a temporary dumping of staff so appear so (or other similar manoeuvre carried out as a revenue saving). A key paragraph for me appears on page 2 –
“One other notable feature of these periodic efficiency and/or performance initiatives has been the lack of learning, of accumulated knowledge, from one campaign to the next. Although we have learnt a great deal about how to measure performance, efficiency and productivity of public activities in the past four decades, far too little of this knowledge has been properly codified or is systematically used. There seems to be all too frequently a “reinventing of wheels” each time a new initiative emerges.”
As usual, politics manifests itself by an unwillingness to learn from government to government, as if one dares to appear to be acknowledging some good work was delivered. Personal and party politics will always get in the way of delivering any true efficiencies, since they will be subject to an ideological-based policy barrier.
Continuity has been the task of the civil service but this has been more and more undermined by ministers wanting to show they are in charge and not being “Sir Humphrey’d”