Whitehall inefficiency a thing of the past?

After the government allegedly exceeded its own target to save £21.5bn from its last efficiency drive – the ‘Gershon’ programme 2004-7 – and actually save £26bn, you would think there is little left for the National Audit Office to do. Just issue the odd report saying how well Whitehall is doing and then nip out for some golf. Continue reading

Modernising Government Mk II: ‘Working Together’

Back in 1999 ‘Modernising Government’ was finally published. After nearly two years gestation the general verdict was that it was indeed an elephant – huge, sprawling and ungainly. Everything including the kitchen-sink had been thrown into the lengthy, turgid and mind-numbingly boring document. Well, now we have Modernising Government II – or ‘Working Together: Public Services on Your Side’ (published on Tuesday 10 March 2009). Continue reading

Gizza Job? Jobcentres Plus stitched up by Minister.

“Gizza job”, those with long-enough memories will recall, was the catch phrase of the central character- Yosser Hughes – in Alan Bleasedale’s very dark BBC TV comedy ‘The Boys from the Blackstuff’ which aired in the middle of another big recession (1982). Continue reading

Government bails out “Private” Finance Initiative

The old joke that consultants borrow your watch and then charge you if you want to be told the time has finally come true. The UK Treasury has announced it will step in to provide the finance for £8bn worth of PFI (private finance initiative) deals this year, as other sources of finance dry up (see Nick Timmins in the FT today). Continue reading

The Art of Performance

The major first report by the UK’s latest ‘think tank’, the Institute for Government led by well-known and outspoken former Permanent Secretary Sir Michael Bichard, bodes well for the future of the new body. It is a serious, measured and balanced account of many of the achievements and problems experienced in the UK. Continue reading