Headlines: July 22nd, 2015

The Spending Review announced by the Chancellor will move public service thinking away from seeking further efficiencies to pursing innovative approaches to transform services.

The Chancellor has asked departments, outside the ringfence, to model two scenarios of 25% and 40% of savings within their resource budgets by 2019-20 in real terms. These are the same reductions requested ahead of the Spending Review of 2010.

Although it is always possible to squeeze further efficiency savings, despite savings have already been extracted and salami slice budgets, it is unlikely that the result would be anything approaching 25%, let alone 40%.

The only way to achieve savings on the scale demanded is to re-think what departments do and how they do it. Public service reform has been on the agenda of all governments for decades with varying results, but this initiative holds out the prospect of radical results. A major difference between the past and the present is that in earlier years the way forward has been decreed from the top, whereas now each department is challenged to think creatively about transformation.

A major weakness of public services has been a failure to adopt new technology at the same speed as commercial organisations. Andrew Smith, Director of Public Sector, ServiceNow views the situation as: “Entangled in legacy infrastructures that are bleeding public sector purses dry, public sector organisations are wasting huge funds on maintaining and upgrading frankly archaic systems. Until they address the waste at the heart of these organisations’ systems, any effort to reduce ICT costs will be small change, or eroding the services that so many depend on. Our government organisations need to rebuild themselves from the inside out to create a leaner, more efficient, more resilient, heavy-weight public service that reflects and is fit for the modern world.”

Delivering transformation will bring a challenge for managers ?and the Local Government Association and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy have joined forces with Canterbury Christ Church University to launch a new qualification for public sector managers leading partnership and collaboration projects.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Collaborative Transformation has been designed to equip programme and project managers with the skills and tools they need to drive forward collaborative transformation projects and make significant savings. For example, it will provide the skills and knowledge for successful working on combined authorities, health and social care partnerships, blue light transformations, CCG collaborative working and shared service projects.