Yesterday I blogged on the government announcements that were “leaked” last week. Today an even more radical recommendation on how to help ensure successful transformation of the delivery of public services in the UK has a similarly low-key launch. The recommendation is for those who wish to have responsibility for delivery to work with and through the Select Committees of Parliament to provide continuity of input on “good practice”: from policy formation, through pre-legislative scrutiny to performance monitoring
The report of the EURIM Transformational Government dialogues was published today.
A panel of MPs and Peers, all with experience of chairing or serving on select committees, supported by industry experts, summarized material from senior officials and advisors, trusted intermediaries, front-line practitioners, service users and benefits recipients.
The sessions focussed on:
· Social Inclusion: transforming delivery for those citizens most in need, who are commonly dependent on multiple public services;
· Delivery Partnerships: public services delivered in co-operation with external organisations, including the third/voluntary sector, offering diversity of provision.
· Democratising Delivery: empowering citizens to help set priorities, design services and provide feedback on what is actually delivered.
There were cross-cutting threads such as the role of government and management of performance, information and change but these paled in importance behind the problem of people churn at the top: the lack of continuity of officials, not just ministers, and consequent lack of continuity of “ownership” from policy formation to implementation. This led the panel to focus its recommendations on those likely to be around when that which is announced this year moves towards implementation:
· The Select Committees that are increasingly being asked to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny and then review performance on proposals that cross departmental boundaries.
· Those service suppliers who think ahead and would welcome professional “guidance” that would apply to their customers and their competitors and as well as themselves
The opening recommendations were therefore for:
· Select Committees to take an active role in the governance of Transformational Government policy, including pre- and post- legislative scrutiny and performance monitoring, to help overcome the consequences that flow from the lack of evidence based policy making and the equal lack of continuity of ministers and officials between primary and secondary legislation, let alone subsequent implementation.
· Select Committees to use their powers to co-operate across departmental boundaries, to ensure risks and opportunities are monitored and managed, so as to identify and praise good practice, ensuring that transformation leads to better services, not just nominal cost-savings within the lead silo.
· Service providers to collectively agree and publish clear professional guidance on best practice information management, performance management and measurement of success … .and … moves towards policy, consultation, monitoring and accountability frameworks that will allow services to be segmented according to the diversity … of human needs.
There were many other recommendations but devotees of Yes Minister will remember that Sir Humphrey was far more concerned over the risk of a Select Committee enquiry than anything Jim Hacker might say or do. More-over the programme to “re-professionalise” the Civil Service gives the opportunity to produce and publicize professional guidelines than can be cited by Select Committees and/or in the course of judicial review.
Hence also the EURIM plans to work with relevant professional bodies and trade associations to test support for collective action to implement the third recommendation.