Are Government departments other than MOD due for scrutiny?

Yokel

LE
I was going post this on the thread about Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, and the MOD, but thought no.

Government has a reputation for being penny wise, pound foolish. It also plays the short term game. Saving money in the short term at the expense of overall cost.

Two examples:

1. IT projects - why are Government ones more problematic that business ones? Changing requirements? Delays to save money in the short term?

2. PFI and other restrictive schemes. Why pay XYZ PLC over the odds to do maintenance work in a school or hospital when local businesses could do it more cheaply and faster?

Are all departments being invited to improve their financial management?
 
I was going post this on the thread about Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, and the MOD, but thought no.

Government has a reputation for being penny wise, pound foolish. It also plays the short term game. Saving money in the short term at the expense of overall cost.

Two examples:

1. IT projects - why are Government ones more problematic that business ones? Changing requirements? Delays to save money in the short term?

2. PFI and other restrictive schemes. Why pay XYZ PLC over the odds to do maintenance work in a school or hospital when local businesses could do it more cheaply and faster?

Are all departments being invited to improve their financial management?
In answer to the question in the heading - all governments are subject to scrutiny, NAO reviews and answer to parliament etc

Generalised answers to the 2 questions are:
1) because of the scale of government IT projects.
Business projects are not exempt from their own problems

2) Under PFI (Private Finance) you are not just paying for the maintenance and other service being provided.
Under a maintenance contract you pay for your items to be maintained
Under a PFI the contractor pays to replace what you have failed to maintain properly for years. You are paying them back for a loan of their up front investment plus the work they are doing
 
NHS PFI:
This article slags off PFIs for charging trusts 15 rent of their land / buildings. But forgets to mention that the PFIs paid to build/refurbish the


Schools PFI
This article goes a bit more into the detail, and mentions life cycle costs. But compares the PFI costs against the price that an item could be bought/installed for. It doesn’t include maintenance, repair, replacement across the contract lifetime etc
The PFI builds a school using private investment. The government doesn’t pay for schools which ‘saves’ the treasury millions. But that up front saving has to be paid for over the lifetime of the contract
Not only does the PFI pay up front to build the school, but it has to continue to provide everything in it.
A bench does not have obvious running costs but if wooden then it does need to be maintained and a bench does have a lifetime requireing replacement. The PFI have to fix or replace it if broken, paint it etc and plan to replace it every x years. The price charged for that bench is either a big one off up front payment for the PFI to maintain and replace for free, or a monthly charge to do the same

 

Yokel

LE
On the Ventilator thread (the one in Current Affairs), @bobthebuilder suggests that one possible legacy of COVID-19 will be reform of Britain's public sector, particularly the less responsive and less accountable parts that are run at arm's length from Government.

Can accountability, decision making, and project management be improved? Does the whole way public bodies do business need to be examined?

Any thoughts?
 
And don't forget this little gem that popped up two weeks ago and hasn't been picked up by usual media channels...


Conclusion

The Department delivers complex, long-term capability programmes to meet the threats which it has identified. However, at a time of fast-paced technological and political change, it is essential that it can make swift and full use of these capabilities as planned. Failure to do so is likely to undermine the Department’s ability to carry out its key tasks, and lead to existing assets being used for longer and additional costs. To achieve value for money, the Department must deliver capabilities to performance, cost and time consistently within a challenging funding envelope. While the Department may be able to deliver some individual capabilities in ways that deliver value for money, the frequent delays, problems with the quality of what is being delivered and poor monitoring information mean the Department has not achieved it for the portfolio as a whole.

In response to the challenges, the Department is currently implementing changes to its acquisitions and approvals systems. For these to be successful, the Department must change the culture around capability delivery in a number of ways, including ensuring that pressure to be seen to deliver capabilities quickly does not distort accurate reporting of progress. The Department also needs to address the affordability gap in the overall defence budget, as this affects its ability to maintain and enhance capabilities.

Interestingly, the NAO didn't acid-test the need for these capabilities; the report focused on how they are delivered.
 
On the Ventilator thread (the one in Current Affairs), @bobthebuilder suggests that one possible legacy of COVID-19 will be reform of Britain's public sector, particularly the less responsive and less accountable parts that are run at arm's length from Government.

Can accountability, decision making, and project management be improved? Does the whole way public bodies do business need to be examined?

Any thoughts?
TBH you could study any number of models for delivering public services around the world and find failings in them all.

At its heart is accountability. Politicians are accountable to the electorate in that they get voted out if they fail. Business leaders are accountable to their shareholders in thet they get fired if they don’t perform and eventually the business will go under.

But public sector leaders are near enough impossible to hold to account whatever the model. There are NHS trusts that are bankrupt; no one cares. The taxpayer just foots the bill.

The big problem is in delivery. IMHO we need far more competition and far less socialism. The blunt fact is that Britain’s public sector management is packed with left-leaning, politically correct, unionised, bureaucratic ideologues. Procedures people who always find a reason why things can’t be done. it needs to be run in a far more entrepreneurial way.
 
On the Ventilator thread (the one in Current Affairs), @bobthebuilder suggests that one possible legacy of COVID-19 will be reform of Britain's public sector, particularly the less responsive and less accountable parts that are run at arm's length from Government.

Can accountability, decision making, and project management be improved? Does the whole way public bodies do business need to be examined?

Any thoughts?
utterly impossible to hold any public official to account.
see the crook who dropped Portsmouth Council in the financial merdre.
Parachuted out on A Friday straight into a similar job with another council on Monday.
Examples legion in other councils are available
 
Can accountability, decision making, and project management be improved? Does the whole way public bodies do business need to be examined?
No.

It needs to be ripped up, put through a shredder and then burnt to death. Then start with a clean slate from top to bottom

But public sector leaders are near enough impossible to hold to account whatever the model. There are NHS trusts that are bankrupt; no one cares. The taxpayer just foots the bill.
This X 1000.

I believe that this model would work superbly ( metaphorically speaking )


Axe.jpg
 
Censure for corrupt and incompetent civil servants would be a good start.

The real problem is that behaviour like that is seen as completely normal in the third world, and it's leaking into the developed world.
 
There is a significant tension in holding Public Servants (esp those in central Government) to account.

Every opposition declaims the fact they can't interrogate the senior CS that made a decision, yet at exactly the same time, the minister responsible pushes attacks away saying "it was an operational decision I was not involved with".

That process is called the "Osmotherly Rule", and holds that a minister is wholly responsible to Parliament for everything that happens in his/her Department. This is not a law, merely convention.

If we do start holding senior CS to account, then that may become seriously embarrassing to ministers, as the latter's inconsistency, mendacity or simple stupidity in their direction to said senior CS is publicly exposed.

TL;DR - there's a reason we don't hold senior CS, and that's because it's politically convenient not to.
 
There is a significant tension in holding Public Servants (esp those in central Government) to account.

Every opposition declaims the fact they can't interrogate the senior CS that made a decision, yet at exactly the same time, the minister responsible pushes attacks away saying "it was an operational decision I was not involved with".

That process is called the "Osmotherly Rule", and holds that a minister is wholly responsible to Parliament for everything that happens in his/her Department. This is not a law, merely convention.

If we do start holding senior CS to account, then that may become seriously embarrassing to ministers, as the latter's inconsistency, mendacity or simple stupidity in their direction to said senior CS is publicly exposed.

TL;DR - there's a reason we don't hold senior CS, and that's because it's politically convenient not to.
The thing that amazes me is that we somehow expect politicians to be anything but inconsistent, mendacious or simply stupid.

How many times have we debated on here the quality of VSOs? How many times have be discussed the promotion system, the lack of objectivity and lack of accountability. And, specifically, how selecting senior leadership from a small pool identified because of their ability to pass AOSB / AIB or whatever?

And yet, somehow, we expect to select people who are capable of running departments that spend billions and drive the country from a cast of media savvy political nonentities who can win at constituency level.
 
Border Force really needs looking at, especially up North. Absolutely shocking!
 

Yokel

LE
I started this thread to see if the scrutiny that defence is facing will apply to other Government departments, many of which are bigger spenders than MOD, and most of the time are probably more important to most of the population?

@jrwlynch has spoken about Dominic Cummings and quoted him - I have no idea if her knows him personally.

Does Government have a learning culture? Does it have a just culture - can honest mistakes be acknowledged without someone being thrown under the buss? Are decisions analysed with things like PCDA or Pareto analysis?

Should Government strive to be a High Reliability Organisation?

I started a thread about this: Learning from failure - a growth mindset
 
Does Government have a learning culture?
HaHaHaHaHa

How many times have you heard the phrase '' lessons will be learned ''

can honest mistakes be acknowledged without someone being thrown under the buss?
Hmmmm - I do not think I can recall any time a Politician has held up their hand and admitted to making an honest mistake. I have heard more bluff, bluster and BS in passing the buck than you could whack to death with a big stick. Likewise, the verbal diarrhea and outright lies spouted when they are actually caught out bang to rights.

Methinks that you are looking for something in Politicians, that largely doesn't exist.
 
I started this thread to see if the scrutiny that defence is facing will apply to other Government departments, many of which are bigger spenders than MOD, and most of the time are probably more important to most of the population?

@jrwlynch has spoken about Dominic Cummings and quoted him - I have no idea if her knows him personally.

Does Government have a learning culture? Does it have a just culture - can honest mistakes be acknowledged without someone being thrown under the buss? Are decisions analysed with things like PCDA or Pareto analysis?

Should Government strive to be a High Reliability Organisation?

I started a thread about this: Learning from failure - a growth mindset
Are there any government departments that spend more than the MoD? I don’t think there are; most departments allocate budgets at arms lengths but have no control over expenditure. There only direct spend is on head office.

This is one reason why the MoD is the first place to look for cuts. It’s expenditure is direct.
 

Yokel

LE
HaHaHaHaHa

How many times have you heard the phrase '' lessons will be learned ''



Hmmmm - I do not think I can recall any time a Politician has held up their hand and admitted to making an honest mistake. I have heard more bluff, bluster and BS in passing the buck than you could whack to death with a big stick. Likewise, the verbal diarrhea and outright lies spouted when they are actually caught out bang to rights.

Methinks that you are looking for something in Politicians, that largely doesn't exist.
Why is that? Does the public (and media) have an expectation that politicians and other officials will be 100% correct 100% of the time, so they cannot admit to less anything less without appearing weak? I have seen this at first hand in organisations.

Are there any government departments that spend more than the MoD? I don’t think there are; most departments allocate budgets at arms lengths but have no control over expenditure. There only direct spend is on head office.

This is one reason why the MoD is the first place to look for cuts. It’s expenditure is direct.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Are you saying Health and Education are not accountable to the elected politicians?
 
Why is that? Does the public (and media) have an expectation that politicians and other officials will be 100% correct 100% of the time
Nope. But a degree of competence should not be too much to ask for.

( Ask yourself why the Taxpayer forks out £ millions every year on SPADS )

Lets save a F***ing fortune by getting rid of Politicians and employing SPADS instead.

Pro Government Media will praise the Government, no matter how bad the sh!t smells. Anti Government Media will slate the Government no matter how sweet the roses smell. Nature of the beast.

The voting public get continually sh@t on when they elect a Government and find out, yet again, that the election manifesto was a waste of space.

Politicians, with very few exceptions, are as much use as t!ts on a f!sh.
 

Yokel

LE
Nope. But a degree of competence should not be too much to ask for.

( Ask yourself why the Taxpayer forks out £ millions every year on SPADS )

Lets save a F***ing fortune by getting rid of Politicians and employing SPADS instead.

Pro Government Media will praise the Government, no matter how bad the sh!t smells. Anti Government Media will slate the Government no matter how sweet the roses smell. Nature of the beast.

The voting public get continually sh@t on when they elect a Government and find out, yet again, that the election manifesto was a waste of space.

Politicians, with very few exceptions, are as much use as t!ts on a f!sh.
Politicians give accountability via the electoral system. The negative feedback from public opinion and political opposition (including from the members belonging to the party in power) should curb Government from getting out of control. In the old days there was a mix of occupational backgrounds that people had before entering politics, and this provided some defence against groupthink.
 
Politicians give accountability via the electoral system.
Actually, they don't. You are conflating 2 issues.

Name 1 Politician that has been held accountable for obvious f**k ups ?

Who got sacked for the Scottish Parliament fiasco ? A £45 million contract that ended up at £450 million.

HS 2 - £38 Billion to over £120 Billion.

The list is endless.
 

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