Quote of the week
“…(P)ublic servants must demonstrate a willingness to reform that is acknowledged and sustained by successive governments.”
As government departments and the GoC Twitterverse continue to respond to the Clerk’s Blueprint 2020 challenge to help shape the future of the public service, it might be interesting to see what challenges are still to be overcome in the U.K. government reform agenda one and half years after it was launched.
A week ago, there was an online forum that explored what government reform in 2015 and beyond might look like. Not quite Blueprint 2020, but close enough ….
There were some themes that public service reformers might find interesting.
For one thing, there was a sense that all players in government reform need to realize that this is a long-term game. Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, argued that it will take about five years to see the benefits of reform. He added that public sector reform must be “sustained by successive governments,” a theme that Ed Roddis of Deloitte UK echoed when he said that governments need to think beyond political cycles if real reform of the public service is to occur.
There was also agreement that budget reductions are the real drivers of innovation in government. Andrew Haldenby, the director of Reform, said that the “greatest innovation has come in areas of greatest pressure – police, prisons, local government, defence.” Roddis added that government executives had told him that “cuts had made them refocus on outcomes and … citizens’ needs.”
There was a view that real change had to be driven from the centre, and a warning that outsourcing will lead to less transparency and poorer value for money.
And there was a tantalizing hint of what the long-term future will look like. Focusing on reform post- 2015, Sam Markey, head of implementation and engagement for the U.K. government’s open public services reform program, sad that the “move towards digital services, more collaborative models of working between services/departments, and increased openness catalyzed through the open public services program and civil service reform plan are surely here to stay.”