Public services should move from the traditional command-and-control style of management to a high-performance model based on autonomy and trust. This call for a re-think of the way public services are managed comes from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in a report ‘People and Public Services: Why Central Targets Miss the Mark.’ The report’s author, Observer Management Editor, Simon Caulkin, argues that public sector organisations should develop their own quality-based ‘routes to excellence’ to allow them to turn the rhetoric of ‘new localism’ into reality. People management, not targets should be at the heart of the reform process.Calculating the number of targets that the public sector is subject to is difficult, but at national level the Public Service Agreements that departments and agencies conclude with the Treasury contain around 125 targets. The NHS alone has at least 60. One estimate is that local government has more than 600 targets to meet.
Auditing is the other central control mechanism. There are around 150 regulators, ombudsmen, auditors, inspectorates and watchdogs, employing around 20,000 people and costing around 1 billion pounds to run. Observing agencies are the fastest growing area of the public sector.
The report calls for a shift from managerialism to leadership top-downand bottom-up. People rather than processes should be at the heart of Civil Service and public sector reform. The best people management and high-performance practice should be adopted. There should be a move to using scorecards and a framework to guide performance requirements and objectives, rather than imposing a top-down myriad of targets.