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Updated thoughts on the state of UK government.

posted 12 Sept 2013, 03:23 by Peter Webb

We still have a government system reminiscent of gentlemen vs players with separate entry on to the field at Lords. Reform needs to be deep enough to recognize that policy and delivery cannot be separated on a ‘class’ basis. At the very least Ministers are responsible and are in it together with the mandarins. And doesn’t  the same  apply equally to local government ?


Missing are deep reform intentions in the language of  objectives and directives embracing governance with operational management and  administrative philosophy, civil service re-constitution (corporate ?) with personnel change, Treasury re-definition (with a CFO at the cabinet table ?Michael Izza: Accountable government  ), and accountability process.


And is there to be continued fudging of our finances ‘off balance sheet’ reminiscent of the ‘cooking of the books’ perpetrated by Greece to secure entry into the euro, and of other European governments  subsequently breeching the deficit/GDP 3% ratio as do we (ref: the C&AG’s qualification of WGA 2011-12) ?


Government operational performance is  more important now than the finer points of tax theory and spending detail. Policy evaluation, lead time and implementation are insufficiently recognized together as a determinant of ‘quality’ and cost to taxpayers. CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) is afraid of offending; The ICAEW (Chartered Accountants - Michael Izza is CEO) is financially orientated and CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) is hardly known of in government – but  Dr Martin Read (member of the Efficiency and Reform Board) now says “Despite the progress being made (ie in management accounting)  the government’s view of its operations remains clouded”.


The Treasury organogram begs the question:  Is the Permanent Secretary a Cinderella on cinderella pay or an undervalued CFO who is neutered by being placed ‘below the salt’ ?