About the Author

Ken Cole
SPS Consultancy

Ken Cole has worked in senior positions in both the public and private sectors and was one of the founding Directors of SPS in 2001. He recently completed a three year secondment as Director of the London Centre of Excellence. Ken has thrilled many public and private audiences with his incisive analysis, robust delivery and his belief in 'telling it as it is'. His blog is a regular commentary of the improvement and efficiency agenda.

Make sure you pay a frequent visit to find out Ken's latest thoughts on the workings of government, the latest policy initiatives and much more...

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The Truthful Maxim

Dec 01, 2010

 

My Soapbox item in Supply Management http://blog.supplymanagement.com/2010/11/rieps-will-be-missed/ seems to have hit a few chords. The maxim for the public sector – ‘if something is working either close it down or re-organise it’. This time it is the RIEPs, back in 2008 it was the RCEs. The abolition of Firebuy is another example in the recent ‘quango bonfire’. In the case of Firebuy the loss was down to a combination of CLG ineptitude / indecision combined with a politically inspired assault (ED [i]– surely report?) from the National Audit Office.

This maxim would be rarely applied in the private sector, although there are a few corporate giants that have far more money then sense. So it does beg the questions why the public sector and who is to blame? The answer to the first question is simple Government Ministers come and go on a regular basis either as a result of a reshuffle or appearing on the front page of the News of the World. However, most politicians have an ego far larger than their intellectual capability and want to make their mark on policy for the right reasons.

It is here that the problem is to be found in part. Civil servants that I regularly tease always point out that every change of Minister brings a change of direction if not policy. However, the Civil Service is equally to blame – career civil servants are often moved every two to three years to a new post. Briefings change, expertise is lost and the UK public sector ends up with the worst of all worlds. When I posed the question in my article 'Who is briefing the Minister?' the answer was certainly no one with the depth of knowledge needed to put an end to this crazy maxim.

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