Recently I have attended a number of meetings to discuss public service reform, it has been a theme that has come up over coffee, Sunday lunch and at the pub as well as these more formal gatherings.
In most of these discussion we seemed to reiterate all the old themes.. with the odd politicians stoutly defending the status quo while seeming to talk a new reality. And when the old guard were present they saluted the unfathomable issues and nod to the half-truths used to explain the impossibility of thinking anything different. While I agree with Hume that truth only exists in a discussion between friends I doubt that much truth was agreed in any of our discussions.
The quick polarisation to Ryan Air and “I don’t like the Easy Jet web site” show that no one wants to know that if Central Government took Easy Jet’s approach to ICT then Central Government would save £15Bn a year in ICT costs…. Yes that is £15Bn, no really £15Bn a year .. yeah I know….
There has been no chance of thinking that the 3rd sector might play a role or god forbid that the private sector might be better at anything… whenever the subject of private education raised it is quickly is glossed over as being unimportant or irrelevant by the civil servants present. Maybe I am meeting the wrong Civil Servants…. I am sue I am asking the wrong questions.
To my mind there was an elephant standing close to these conversations, the silent civil servant majority, the saboteurs, as someone said during one of these round trips to the eventual Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious. People, that for the last few years have been the butt of all that is “wrong” with the Public Sector. Expect that they are the building blocks of the huge state bureaucracies that support the careers of the senior civil servants. The issue is Leadership not the workers… shocking that anyone would think otherwise. Honestly, why does the each Government Department need a CTO for goodness sake. .
My real concern is that if we are to reform public services then inviting the Public Sector to discuss it is worthwhile but it not THE answer, you need to get; Peter Holbrook, Patrick Lewis, Julia Grant, Nick Bosanquet, Charles Midenahall and Ceri Jones in a room… listen to them you will hear the new reality,yet again the future is here it is still poorly distributed.