Book News: January 4th, 2007

By Andrew Massey and William HuttonIn this report, published by the Public Management and Policy Association, the authors argue that successful modernization of public services in the UK is largely dependent on the professionalism adopted by public servants. Adoption of the modernization agenda has resulted in a managerialist approach which gives rise to concerns over ethics, trust, accountability and value for money. Against this background, the role of professionals, professional ethics and the pursuit of best value from procurement contracts all come under the spotlight in a detailed critique.

Improved governance helps to detect, deter, disrupt and punish fraud, maladministration, and mismanagement in government tendering projects, the report claims, before going on to recommend the use of a checklist of ‘red flags’ to combat sharp practices. These red flags should be so widely impressed on politicians, professionals, civil servants and concerned members of the public that no project proposal would be put forward for approval that contained any red flag without its being fully justified in the proposal itself, the authors argue.

The report concludes that ethical and accountable policy-making and effective and efficient service delivery are dependent on the commitment and enthusiastic compliance of professionals employed to structure and deliver services. The authors call for a new debate about what it means to be a ‘professional’.

Copies of the report are available