Doomed from inception

Most public sector ‘partnerships’ are doomed before the procurement begins, let alone the implementaton. The exceptions are where service recipients and delivery partners are fully involved in the initial planning.

The EURIM Transformational Government dialogues are gathering momentum. The second hearing, on delivery partnerships heard robust evidence from NCVO, the Social Enterprise Coalition and National Union of Subpostmasters as to how and why services are not yet being transformed – “from tendering geared towards traditional markets” to people who “who have the temerity to live their lives outside political boundaries”.

However, they also heard from them and from Sunderland Council (the winners of the Digital Challenge) and one of the most successful social enterprises (Ealing Community Trust) about how and why real change is achieved – including by ensuring that the commissioning process is based on the outcomes that are to be achieved and not constrained by assumptions as to the inputs necessary.

I expect to blog more on this tomorrow (with a link to the report of the EURIM hearings that is currently being edited), after listening to Gillian Merron (the Minister now responsible for the Government Transformation Agenda) at PITCOM this evening.

Much of the evidence last Thursday echoed the conclusions of the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee that I quoted in my blog last month, From Big-Bang to Structured Evolution, on the pre-conditions for succesful delivery – private sector as well as public. .

One important new point was, however, the effect of regulatory overheads: “reporting requirements for a £20,000 project will often be the same as those for a £2 million pound project.” I have seen this over the years with regard to government grants to supposedly “help” industry: where the cost of application, adjudication, monitoring and reporting is all too often greater than the funding on offer to the recipents.