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Further Efficiencies Planned By The UK Government: What Are They Missing?

By Andrea Di Maio | April 22, 2009 | 0 Comments

social networks in governmentshared services in government

On April 21st, the HM Treasury released the final Operational Efficiency Program report, which contains a series of recommendations from appointed advisors to improve the efficiency of the UK public sector by addressing five areas, i.e. back-office and IT, collaborative procurement, asset management and sales, property and local incentives and empowerment.

The UK government has to be praised for relentlessly looking at how to improve its administration’s efficiency, through the Gershon review first (which has been somewhat imitated by Australia) and the Operational Efficiency Program now. The report recognizes and build on the results of actions taken in response to the Gershon review.

Gartner is working on a research note for its clients that examines in detail the recommendations from the report. Two areas I have been looking at already are back-office and IT and local incentives and empowerment.

The former calls for building savings achieved after Gershon in department budgets, for embracing benchmarking disciplines, for strengthening governance of IT, for furthering and consolidating shared services, for developing internal IT capabilities and profession. The latter calls, amongst other things, for accelerating joint working in local areas, for improving service design by leveraging frontline and other government workers’ expertise, for embedding innovation and collaboration in capability reviews.

These are all important areas, and some will require strong drive and continued effort to be implemented. What seems to be entirely missing in the report, though, is any reference to socialization (i.e. how to involve constituents in service delivery and redesign as well as in operational improvement) and to commoditization (i.e. how to leverage non-government-specific infrastructures and services to further reduce cost and free management resources to better focus on mission-critical tasks and processes).

Why isn’t there any link to what the Power of Information Report says about using public data to engage people in helping government improve its performances? Why isn’t there any reference to something like cloud computing, IT utility or other forms of IT commoditization?

Last but not least, the report advocates greater consolidation and centralization of IT decision-making. While this makes sense in general terms, how  are contributions of individual departments to mission-specific innovations going to be encouraged?

It will be necessary to work on the overlaps, complementarities and conflicts among this report, the Power of Information Report and the Reform Agenda (see my previous post as well).

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