Gershon - The Savings Finder General

#1
So, it looks like the tories are basing their £12bn of savings the government can make on the musings of Sir Peter Gershon.

Some people may think that name sounds familiar. Well, back in 2003, he was commissioned by the then government, those despicable Labour men, to come up with a special report. This report was going to show how the government could save money.

So what did he come up with? Well, his big ideas included using ICT as a way to automate a lot of work, and therefore reduce inefficiency. Luckily, all of these big government IT systems worked. For example, we all know what a success things like JPA and NOMS have been.

He also suggested that moving bits of government out of London to the regions would be cheaper and provide better service. So for example the move of the NHS BSA to Newcastle.

One of the key suggestions he made was that departments got in their own efficiency savings consultants (you know, the big 4 accountancy firms) to identify where processes were inefficient and sort them out. Yes, this has gone incredibly well. After all, the current state of MOD procurement after the last round of consultancy is lauded worldwide as a model of efficacy.

In addition, the removal of back office jobs that were superfluous by collating different bits of a department and putting them into a single functional repository. Again, we all know how well that has worked with the HMRC, and how they never have any problems because of, for example, cutting back on their Information Security and Compliance teams.

So all in all, a really big success story. We know he has been a really big success because those Labour boys have told us so. So here is my question - how come this did nothing to dent the departmental spends? Seems a strange one to me.

So what is he suggesting to create savings for an incoming tory government?

Well, the biggest saving is going to come from cutting IT costs. Hold on I hear you say, are those the IT costs that were going to save a huge amount in staff costs only 5 years ago? They are those very same ones. So he is now saying that the way to save money was to not do what he suggested in the first place.

Next, we should reduce spending on consultants. Yes. Consultants. Those ones that Gershon suggested that we should get in to help. Now he wants them out.

Finally, when staff leave don't replace them. Well, that seems sensible. So when my local NHS Trust loses its cardiologist, we will just not replace him. Teacher retiring, well lets add his pupils to other teachers already overloaded classes. Policemen, well, law and order isn't all that important.

Really. You couldn't make this up. I wouldn't trust Gershon if he told me that my screen name was Bazzinho1977.

Tory savings plans? Anything based on Gershon should be taken with a pinch of salt, a shot of whisky and a healthy helping of LSD if you are going to believe it.
 
#2
I think the plans and blanket "let's not rehire" interpretation needs clarification and a realisation that the simplification of this dictate is unlikely to be what is actually meant. I doubt if even our political masters are as thick to think that a recruiting ban is ever going to be possible. As pointed out above, you still need to replace the functional experts.

There are jobs in the public service that need to stay. There are plenty of roles that are a complete waste of public finance.

I dare say what will happen next is a list of those jobs that will go will be made up. Those key areas, that actually do real work, will be protected.
 
#3
Bazzinho1977 said:
So, it looks like the tories are basing their £12bn of savings the government can make on the musings of Sir Peter Gershon.

Some people may think that name sounds familiar. Well, back in 2003, he was commissioned by the then government, those despicable Labour men, to come up with a special report. This report was going to show how the government could save money.

So what did he come up with? Well, his big ideas included using ICT as a way to automate a lot of work, and therefore reduce inefficiency. Luckily, all of these big government IT systems worked. For example, we all know what a success things like JPA and NOMS have been.

He also suggested that moving bits of government out of London to the regions would be cheaper and provide better service. So for example the move of the NHS BSA to Newcastle.

One of the key suggestions he made was that departments got in their own efficiency savings consultants (you know, the big 4 accountancy firms) to identify where processes were inefficient and sort them out. Yes, this has gone incredibly well. After all, the current state of MOD procurement after the last round of consultancy is lauded worldwide as a model of efficacy.

In addition, the removal of back office jobs that were superfluous by collating different bits of a department and putting them into a single functional repository. Again, we all know how well that has worked with the HMRC, and how they never have any problems because of, for example, cutting back on their Information Security and Compliance teams.

So all in all, a really big success story. We know he has been a really big success because those Labour boys have told us so. So here is my question - how come this did nothing to dent the departmental spends? Seems a strange one to me.

So what is he suggesting to create savings for an incoming tory government?

Well, the biggest saving is going to come from cutting IT costs. Hold on I hear you say, are those the IT costs that were going to save a huge amount in staff costs only 5 years ago? They are those very same ones. So he is now saying that the way to save money was to not do what he suggested in the first place.

Next, we should reduce spending on consultants. Yes. Consultants. Those ones that Gershon suggested that we should get in to help. Now he wants them out.

Finally, when staff leave don't replace them. Well, that seems sensible. So when my local NHS Trust loses its cardiologist, we will just not replace him. Teacher retiring, well lets add his pupils to other teachers already overloaded classes. Policemen, well, law and order isn't all that important.

Really. You couldn't make this up. I wouldn't trust Gershon if he told me that my screen name was Bazzinho1977.

Tory savings plans? Anything based on Gershon should be taken with a pinch of salt, a shot of whisky and a healthy helping of LSD if you are going to believe it.
I heard this on the radio this morning and, like you, the name rang unpleasant bells. Is this the Tory election campaign - one stupid policy a day? 'National service lite' yesterday, Geshorn II today, etc, etc. ' Dave' really isn't convincing me, and I want to be convinced.

C_C
 
#4
in_the_cheapseats said:
I think the plans and blanket "let's not rehire" interpretation needs clarification and a realisation that the simplification of this dictate is unlikely to be what is actually meant. I doubt if even our political masters are as thick to think that a recruiting ban is ever going to be possible. As pointed out above, you still need to replace the functional experts.

There are jobs in the public service that need to stay. There are plenty of roles that are a complete waste of public finance.

I dare say what will happen next is a list of those jobs that will go will be made up. Those key areas, that actually do real work, will be protected.
Yes. But the tone of Dave, that there are 40,000 new hires each year, and if you don't replace them that saves money is a fundamental to the savings figures he is talking about.

If he changes it to "well, we will look at each job and decide on a case by case basis, and this will probably mean (guesstimate coming up) that we can save 1,000 jobs a year" would blow the savings out of the water. THe savings (from not re-hiring) amount to £1-2bn per year. Say these are £20k jobs, that doesn't even come close. In fact - to save £2bn a year from not hiring, assuming a rate of 135% for oncosts at an average wage of £20k it needs to be around 4,000 jobs going out of the job pool in the first year.

It is complete baloney. Some have said this election is Dave's to lose. He seems to be giving it his best shot.
 
#5
Bazzinho1977 said:
It is complete baloney. Some have said this election is Dave's to lose. He seems to be giving it his best shot.
It doesnt matter if he loses this one, if Brown gets back in Unite will drive the country to bankruptcy, and we will have another election (+IMF visit) within a year.

There is nothing quite like fully funding the Labour party to have Brown completely by the balls.
 
#6
Oh FFS read the existing NAO reports on how Gershon and CSR07 have been dealt with and it is quite clear that there are substantial saving to be had just by having the will to make departments do that which they are already supposed to be doing absent bloody stupid numbers games, delaying tactics, obfuscation and political fudging:


"Our work has shown that departments often do not have a good grip on the costs of their activities. It is quite rare to see good information on the unit costs of outputs. Without this it is difficult to see how departments can make rational choices about what to stop, what to change, and what to continue.

While the current fiscal problems are clearly very unwelcome, they do present an opportunity to make real improvement to the management and cost disciplines in the public sector."


http://www.nao.org.uk/idoc.ashx?docId=5262936A-7D29-484E-8D6F-A71CB00ED506&version=-1

Now all that upsets the Labour payroll vote and is precisely why all this has been soft pedalled pre-election. So, even if a Labour Govt. gets back in, you can equally look forward to some very painful hits.
 
#7
Blogg said:
Oh FFS read the existing NAO reports on how Gershon and CSR07 have been dealt with and it is quite clear that there are substantial saving to be had just by having the will to make departments do that which they are already supposed to be doing absent bloody stupid numbers games, delaying tactics, obfuscation and political fudging:


"Our work has shown that departments often do not have a good grip on the costs of their activities. It is quite rare to see good information on the unit costs of outputs. Without this it is difficult to see how departments can make rational choices about what to stop, what to change, and what to continue.

While the current fiscal problems are clearly very unwelcome, they do present an opportunity to make real improvement to the management and cost disciplines in the public sector."


http://www.nao.org.uk/idoc.ashx?docId=5262936A-7D29-484E-8D6F-A71CB00ED506&version=-1

Now all that upsets the Labour payroll vote and is precisely why all this has been soft pedalled pre-election. So, even if a Labour Govt. gets back in, you can equally look forward to some very painful hits.
ooooh. good obfuscation. However, I don't think that moves the discussion over Dave's spending plans on. Quite simply, anyone who comes in has to make cuts. Quite heavy cuts as well. That is not doubted by anyone.

However, these are Dave's plans for ADDITIONAL cuts, over and above the efficiency savings Capt. Darling has already identified. Those efficiency savings already identified are based in part (I am led to believe) on doing exactly what the NAO report suggests.
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#8
Bazzinho1977 said:
Well, his big ideas included using ICT as a way to automate a lot of work, and therefore reduce inefficiency.
Good idea, I consult on that as a PM quite a lot.
He also suggested that moving bits of government out of London to the regions would be cheaper and provide better service.
Good idea, especially if you have a good ICT infrastructure.
One of the key suggestions he made was that departments got in their own efficiency savings consultants to identify where processes were inefficient and sort them out.
Good idea, would you expect civil service managers to do this well? (BTW I do this and I am not one of the big 4...)
In addition, the removal of back office jobs that were superfluous by collating different bits of a department and putting them into a single functional repository.
Good idea, with process management experts (I do this too) this can make for big savings.
So the bloke has a lot of good ideas, which the incumbent numpties have failed to understand and implement effectively.
Or are you suggesting Gershon was responsible for implementing all these recommendations?
 
#9
Alsacien said:
Bazzinho1977 said:
Well, his big ideas included using ICT as a way to automate a lot of work, and therefore reduce inefficiency.
Good idea, I consult on that as a PM quite a lot.
He also suggested that moving bits of government out of London to the regions would be cheaper and provide better service.
Good idea, especially if you have a good ICT infrastructure.
One of the key suggestions he made was that departments got in their own efficiency savings consultants to identify where processes were inefficient and sort them out.
Good idea, would you expect civil service managers to do this well? (BTW I do this and I am not one of the big 4...)
In addition, the removal of back office jobs that were superfluous by collating different bits of a department and putting them into a single functional repository.
Good idea, with process management experts (I do this too) this can make for big savings.
So the bloke has a lot of good ideas, which the incumbent numpties have failed to understand and implement effectively.
Or are you suggesting Gershon was responsible for implementing all these recommendations?
I fear you may have failed to read any further. These were his initial ideas five years ago. His ideas now are to do the exact opposite of all of these.

Edited to add: I used to be big 4 (not working on these specific engagements, I hasten to add. How did we get efficiency savings? We asked the people in the job how these could be achieved, and then told the department to implement these ideas. The amount we got paid for this was PHENOMENOMENOMENAL.
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#10
Bazzinho1977 said:
Alsacien said:
Bazzinho1977 said:
Well, his big ideas included using ICT as a way to automate a lot of work, and therefore reduce inefficiency.
Good idea, I consult on that as a PM quite a lot.
He also suggested that moving bits of government out of London to the regions would be cheaper and provide better service.
Good idea, especially if you have a good ICT infrastructure.
One of the key suggestions he made was that departments got in their own efficiency savings consultants to identify where processes were inefficient and sort them out.
Good idea, would you expect civil service managers to do this well? (BTW I do this and I am not one of the big 4...)
In addition, the removal of back office jobs that were superfluous by collating different bits of a department and putting them into a single functional repository.
Good idea, with process management experts (I do this too) this can make for big savings.
So the bloke has a lot of good ideas, which the incumbent numpties have failed to understand and implement effectively.
Or are you suggesting Gershon was responsible for implementing all these recommendations?
I fear you may have failed to read any further. These were his initial ideas five years ago. His ideas now are to do the exact opposite of all of these.
That is the McKinsey way.....but I feel you are interpreting what he says through socialist coloured glasses.

You are a bean counter - you should be looking forward to Tories slashing and burning their way to efficiency savings :D
 
#11
This 12 trillionzillion saving lark is utter tosh. Haven't this government been banging on about reducing waste for ages? And as mentioned not replacing people?? What utter utter kack.
 
#12
To be honest I reckon given the chance I could easily find places in the budget to shave 12 billion off, whilst also maybe being able to provide a stimulus for the eocnomy and communities.
 
#13
How is it so outrageous that a department be asked to cut its budget by 1%? Is it honestly beyond the wit of Civil Servants to save 1% of their budget without impacting on the service they deliver? Further cuts will, of course, cause reductions in service provision, so they've got to be well-targetted, but how can 1% efficiency savings be so impossible that they're the key point for discussion in the election campaign? It's absurd.
 
#14
There good ideas possibly beyond the competence of (any) goverment to deliver.

The NHS IT system in theory could save time and money and even make doctors and nurses workloads less.

Unfortantly probably needs late 21st centuary IT gear and infranstructe to implement :evil:
like most of the goverments big IT ideas.
Getting rid of middle management worked fine for rail track till it hit the fan and discovered all the time servers were ones that kept the show on the road.
 
#15
I saw David Cameron remark that during the recession the people have had to make budget cuts to survive, so why shouldn't the government too. Made sense.
 
#16
Blogg said:

"Our work has shown that departments often do not have a good grip on the costs of their activities. It is quite rare to see good information on the unit costs of outputs. Without this it is difficult to see how departments can make rational choices about what to stop, what to change, and what to continue.
The problem is that organisations like the NHS have no real idea of how to measure & thus adjust these costs & really no incentive to do so. The very senior management still get their bonuses even when targets are not met, while the most junior are quite happy just trogging along in their comfort zones.

What they do do to try & cut costs is set up huge "benchmarking" exercises to try & find out why a certain activity costs different amounts in different part of the country. Extra staff are taken on, conferences, meetings & awaydays held, & if one is lucky a nice shiny corporate identity created for the project. Data is gathered & eventually a nice shiny report is produced.

The only problem is is that the report is all bollix. How do I know this stuff? I've been working as a consultant covering these exercises for the last several years after leaving the mob & a brief period working in Central America.

The reason it is bollix is that too much data is collected, blanks are left, the wrong people asked questions, what goes into the questionnaires can be interpreted differently by different organisations & the categories change from year to year. The results do not compare like with like within year let alone from one year to the next!
 
#17
Alsacien said:
That is the McKinsey way.....but I feel you are interpreting what he says through socialist coloured glasses.

You are a bean counter - you should be looking forward to Tories slashing and burning their way to efficiency savings :D
Rainmakers - every single one of them. I would be happier if I was still earning my crust like that!!
 
#18
CaptainPlume said:
Blogg said:

"Our work has shown that departments often do not have a good grip on the costs of their activities. It is quite rare to see good information on the unit costs of outputs. Without this it is difficult to see how departments can make rational choices about what to stop, what to change, and what to continue.
The problem is that organisations like the NHS have no real idea of how to measure & thus adjust these costs & really no incentive to do so. The very senior management still get their bonuses even when targets are not met, while the most junior are quite happy just trogging along in their comfort zones.

What they do do to try & cut costs is set up huge "benchmarking" exercises to try & find out why a certain activity costs different amounts in different part of the country. Extra staff are taken on, conferences, meetings & awaydays held, & if one is lucky a nice shiny corporate identity created for the project. Data is gathered & eventually a nice shiny report is produced.

The only problem is is that the report is all bollix. How do I know this stuff? I've been working as a consultant covering these exercises for the last several years after leaving the mob & a brief period working in Central America.

The reason it is bollix is that too much data is collected, blanks are left, the wrong people asked questions, what goes into the questionnaires can be interpreted differently by different organisations & the categories change from year to year. The results do not compare like with like within year let alone from one year to the next!
Agree with all of that and it is simply too depressing for words.

Anybody with the faintest grip on reality knows that when cash is tight "savings" have to be primarily measured in terms of reduction in real cash spend, not mythical "efficiency savings", VFM benchmarks, bollox "targets" or obscure accounting adjustments which all too often do nothing other than disguise the problem.

Try this at home:

1. run a lavish lifestyle far in excess of that your current and likely future earnings will support.

2. Run up overdrafts, credit card debts and take top up mortgages to do so.

3. When eventually your bank, credit card company etc tells you they are going to pull the plug, tell them everything will be OK because you will in future only buy things during 50% off sales and will thus achieve 100% efficiency savings because you will have bought twice the amount of goods for the same money.

4. See what happens.

Always follow the cash, not the accounts.
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
So, they've come up with the usual palliatives:

Move more of the Home Civil Service out of London.

HMC&E tried this, they split policy making between London, Liverpool (VAT), Manchester (Excise) and Southend (Customs) - the result people spent more time on trains than they did in their offices.

Calculate how efficient the staff are:

Excise staff in HMRC - They collect 1/8th of Govt revenue (it runs to the Billions), there are c2000 compliance staff spread between Large Business and Local Compliance, and a small smattering of policy staff. They are routinely ignored by HMRC's management who are embarrassed that they exist, and politicians who don't understand what HMRC actually does, and are completely baffled by the Excise. Is it any wonder that morale is through the floor.

Don't replace people who leave:

That simply pushes more work onto an already over-worked body of people, and takes no account of how any organisation actually works.
 
#20
Mr_Fingerz said:
So, they've come up with the usual palliatives:

Move more of the Home Civil Service out of London.

HMC&E tried this, they split policy making between London, Liverpool (VAT), Manchester (Excise) and Southend (Customs) - the result people spent more time on trains than they did in their offices.

Calculate how efficient the staff are:

Excise staff in HMRC - They collect 1/8th of Govt revenue (it runs to the Billions), there are c2000 compliance staff spread between Large Business and Local Compliance, and a small smattering of policy staff. They are routinely ignored by HMRC's management who are embarrassed that they exist, and politicians who don't understand what HMRC actually does, and are completely baffled by the Excise. Is it any wonder that morale is through the floor.

Don't replace people who leave:

That simply pushes more work onto an already over-worked body of people, and takes no account of how any organisation actually works.
Q. Who is the Minister responsible for HMRC?
 

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