Headlines: February 16th, 2007



A survey by CAPS Solutions of council senior managers has revealed that the amount of red tape and legislation is still the worst aspect about working in the public sector. It is closely followed by a lack of resources and lengthy procurement processes.

Respondents to the survey were not asked to specify the form of red tape that caused problems, examples included rigid conformity to formal rules, filling out of unnecessary paperwork, low-level rules that make conducting affairs difficult and having multiple people or committees to approve a decision. The origins of the term are obscure, but it probably emerged from the 17th century English practice of binding official papers with red tape.

Whilst there is little prospect that more resources will become available, some improvement is likely in other areas of concern. Unnecessary paperwork, or keying in the same data several times, is becoming less prevalent as front and back office systems are integrated. Procurement timescales are shortening as E-tendering and E-purchasing replaces manual systems.

The survey also asked respondents to list the best aspect of working in the public sector. Flexible hours came out top with 38% of the responses. The overall standard of employee benefits, including training and subsidised canteens, and high pension entitlement came second and third, both gaining 26% of the vote.

The high preference for flexible working reflects a growing trend across the public and private sectors to secure a better work-life balance. The trend is accelerating following the recent extended right to flexible working.