"There is no fundamental reason why the public sector cannot work just as
efficiently as the private sector."
Actually Chris there are multiple reasons why the public sector cannot work
as efficiently as the private sector. But what we must do is appreciate that
efficiency is a measure of many things. The risk in the debate is to suggest
that a public sector technical operative cannot be as efficient as a private
sector operative (wrong) rather than that the drags on his efficiency are
greater. Drag and efficiency brings to mind motion and efficiency and a Local
Administrative Authority has all of the aerodynamics of a dead hippopotamus.
Again at the risk of having the technical tree officers dislike me (which I
have heard can happen), I am not saying tree officer a,b or c is inefficient,
in fact in its social service role it is hugely efficient at delivering
pretty standardised statutory products regardless of changing political
directives and central government meddling.
However it is pretty universally accepted the big organisations can suffer
from all of the following (this stuff is all over the web for those
§ Complexity - the extent to which the business goals are unclear and the
level of ambiguity in the organisation; if you start offering mixed services
this will increase
§ Political resistance - the presence of competing interest groups with high
levels of power and influence; you are democratically driven and not
§ Cultural resistance - how much a proposed change runs counter to the
shared assumptions which prevail in the organisation; this is a major drag
§ Size and Scope - the extent to which the change affects lots of people and
crosses organisational and national boundaries; this certainly applies
§ Lack of change experience - the extent to which managers have led similar
change programmes in the past, you lack experience in these commercial
disciplines, honestly you do
All of the purchasing power and inter-departmental resources you reference is
actually just drag, it's very useful drag to a democratically driven
statutory delivery vehicle, but its still all cost and drag.
As example you are, in the public sector with pensions about a quarter more
expensive than an equivalent private sector resource and if we freeze
everything (unlikely) it would take to around 2020 for the private sector to
catch up with you.
But actually that's not my big point, I want a public sector, I want it
delivering consistently on our statutory obligations a common platform set of
services. In the private sector we have a quality failsafe which always kicks
in when service levels fall, customers leave and find another supplier, you
are in a uniquely funded monopolistic position and should not compete with
your tax base.
As you say:
"Hit a blip and you have much more capacity to re-jig things, temporarily cut
back on the private work you're taking on, and keep going."
Not really a service ethos my clients let me get away with.
Genuinely - why not write a piece for the AA on "Private Practice the Public
Sector Way" and I'll do the response.
I have a feeling that as with the Euro the market is going to decide.
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