Accountability - In year savings

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Bedpan2zero, Oct 25, 2009.

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  1. Im now a civvi and oversee a small part of a business unit in the nhs

    i manage 75 personnel and an annual budget of £3.5 million.
    At the end of each month I get the accounts, and the accountant highlights issues i.e. my underspends and especially my overspends. the aim of this is that we stay in the black at the end of the financial year.

    So my thoughts are:

    How is accountable for the needs of these in year savings? I cannot beleive that no one has kept an eye on the budgets at grass roots level to get to such a drastic stage as needing to cut back and save £50million half way through the year

    so, are we going to see heads rolling? a public apology ?
  2. msr

    msr LE

    No. You are in the private sector: you screw up your budget you get sacked. There is no such accountability in the public sector.

  3. Watch out for those underspends. When I was a snivle servant they were more dangerous than overspends. Trying to save money meant that you not only lost your underspend at the end of the year but they knocked it off the following year's budget as well, since you obviously didn't need the level of funding that you had asked for in the first place. So spend, spend, spend. Those bean counters really like it when expenditure = budget to the nearest penny, then you might get enhanced performance pay, which is the public service form of banker's bonuses.
  4. Could one reasonbaly infer that if we've moved onto a campaign footing its because the treasury (& therefore the govt) aren't doing the right thing?.

    (Yet we can afford £45 million pounds for a fcuking film centre.)
    (.... while only a half dozen guys can be afforded to work on refurbishing the Mastiff fleet back from Iraq.... is that whyour guys are still driving around in Snatch landrovers????)
  5. Welcome to the NHS

    Firstly there are various sets of PCT accounts several internal and one external for the audit commission.

    The internal accounts and there are many several do not balance - never have and never will. Primary Care and Secondary Care, PMS/GMS and of course the indicative PBC budgets. It is a growth industry in mainstream PCT and StHA management, it accounts for much the recently invested millions and explains why, despite reducing the number of PCTs, the staff levels and costs have risen.

    Those who actually look after patients dont actually take it very seriously. Bean counting and patient care dont mix very well, however hard the Govt try to make it.

    Take it with a pinch of salt and if they crow be prepared to challenge the management - They are not used to it and it really isnt hard to catch them out- expect to be met by silence as this is how they deal with things.

    Jaundiced- Moi?

  6. thanks for the heads up

    but If i am accountable for my over and underspends, as it is kept an eye on periodically - why has it gone so seriously wrong within the MOD

    someone should explain to
    1. the tax payer for coccking up the accounts,
    2. all the personnel who have been directly effected by the swift drop of the finacial axe
  7. BedPan

    Dont forget if you overspend you will have your next budget reduced by the amount of the overspend and have to make an in year plan about how you will reduce expenditure by the amount of the overspend in order to balance the books.

    Once done it will be forgotten about as the box has been ticked. By the time next year comes along the goal posts will have been moved as there will be a new government setting different targets.

    I presume you are in Secondary Care and a Foundation Trust? If so manipulate the HRG codes (a few male hysterectomys) or try consultant to consultant referals and increase overnight admissions/spells as this vastly increases the income, so offsetting the overspend. Even if noticed in 6 months it will be too late to change.

    If you are in a provider arm (community services) try tapping into the PBC pot.

  8. msr

    msr LE

    Because there are no consequences, no-one will be sacked (apart from the TA). It really isn't that hard...

  9. msr

    msr LE

  10. Agreed! Oh how I remember the desperate squandering of cash in March as we bought loads of new office furniture (we didn't need) from the mandatory office supplies catalogue (not the best or cheapest supplier either) and which fell apart within minutes of delivery. But nothing must get in the way of getting rid of the underspend before the next financial year!
    The ideal was to spend 100% of the budget, plus a little bit more. In year, you could then apply to spend a bit of contingency funding, then argue for a budget increase on the strength of the overspend.
  11. Sympathetic_Reaction

    Sympathetic_Reaction LE Book Reviewer

    That's the way to do it...we had similar where we were contracted in Feburary to complete a 6 to 9 month project before end of March that year, we would hash together a report in a month, get paid for it out of this years budget then have the report rejected in April and be told to re-submit. At which point we would spend the 6 to 9 months planned on it, with the cash in the bank and re-submit in November....

    At least that way the money wasn't 'wasted' it was just paid up front which made both the MODs budget look good (as they spent to the penny) and ours as we got a funds boost too late to put into last years accounts so we started the next year with a profit before we started.

    The wonderful world of civil expenditure.

  12. The accountability is an interesting question - where does the buck stop in an organisation as vast as Defence? Part of the problem is that we have to account for constantly changing central government spending plans which change from year to year. Despite best efforts, no one ever knows what the final settlement will be - hence the need to adjust.

    At a departmental level, confusion is caused because we are having to balance an unaffordable (in absolute terms) programme of procurement / deployments and commitments. Put simply, Defence does not have sufficient resources to buy, operate and support everything it needs to do with the current resource levels. This leads to the initial round of changes - to try and make the budget fit. Once the budget does fit, you can be sure that it won't fit anymore as changes to doctrine, enhancement options or just plain old cost increases will then change plans again, and off we go trying to find more savings.

    The reason why cost growth occurs is two-fold - firstly inflation, and secondly inflation of military requirments. For instance, the average project takes many years to occur, and will go through multiple planning rounds to get to the point where it is in service. During this time, the specifications may change dozens of times, as military planners seek to reduce costs in one area, to fund enhancements in another. They may seek to delay (sorry, reprofile) the delivery date to reduce in year costs, or to address the wider challenge in resourcing (for instance projects may be delayed, knowing that it will cost money in the long term, as the shorter term savings would enable other projects to continue and not be cancelled). Additionally, the kit we're getting in on operations is in many cases a significant capability enhancement, so desk officers may want to change the final piece of kit to reflect this, even though it costs more money to do so. Its a dilemma we'll increasingly see - do we buy lots of kit at X specification, even though its been superceded by a UOR, of which we can only afford Y platforms (where Y is less than X!) and keep our capability at the cutting edge of military technology. Once you add in wildcards, like safety enhancements
    replacement of kit worn out on ops earlier than planned, legal modifications etc, and you quickly see how we are in a constant firefighting mode.

    This is why everyone is always making savings, as at the centre, the financiers are trying to keep the organisation in a position where it isn't totally insolvent, and trying to ensure that an organisation which encompasses nearly half a million people, 2000 bases and operates from the bottom of the sea to the depths of space, via all 7 continents can just about remain financially stable.

    Theres a reason most male finance people are bald :)
  13. Yes, and it's most definitely nothing to do with high testosterone levels :)