Quote of the week
“Departments have tended to lack a clear strategic vision of what they are there to do … and the most cost-effective way of delivering it.”
— National Audit Office report
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a U.K. National Audit Office report that assessed the government’s 2012 Civil Service Reform Plan. I argued then – and do now – that there were some good lessons to be learned from it for us in Canada.
Part two of the report focuses on the need to improve value for money.
The U.K. also had a cost reduction program for the public service, and the NAO report says that the “radical redesign” expected from the process didn’t happen for three reasons.
First, there was very little good cost and impact data, which made priority setting hard.
Second, because there were inconsistent approaches to using technology across departments, opportunities were being lost to take advantage of improved service and savings through technology.
Third, the strategic planning processes were badly integrated and did not “cut across organizational boundaries or internal silos to identify all the options for transformation.”
But think about the risks of these challenges. Sure, the report admits that departments can take the credit for the “release of a large number of staff.”
But, it goes on to say, if they can’t figure out new ways of doing business, then the possibility is that either service levels will suffer or new staff will need to be hired so that things get done.
Consider the post-DRAP world in Ottawa. On the positive side, Deloitte provided hard data upon which the cuts were made and we have Shared Services Canada which will try to create digital order.
But already we know that the government will need to hire people to replace those that are leaving. This risks becoming a story not of real organizational transformation, but in the end of doing much the same with new people.