Public Service Reform: A New Agenda for Education and Children’s Services

I’m attending a 24 hour conference on public service reform.

Colin Mair – CEO of the Improvement Service for Scottish Local Government set out the national context:

The comprehensive spending review of government spending will result in flat financial settlements to the public sector over the foreseeable future. The result of this will be limited real growth of budgets.

Set against this will be a rising objective demand for specialist services for those with acute needs – which will require public services to prioritise where money is spent.

Paralleling these demands is the political change which will take place next year which is more likely to be much less politically aligned.

Colin set out a number of challenges which will be presented by the above:

Efficient Government:

“Focus on efficiency – not cuts”
“Review business processes”
“Share service development”
“Minimise duplication and overheads”
“Efficiency needs to become a core value” Integrated service Delivery:

“Focus on outcomes”
“Organise around the service NOT around the producers”
“Improve ease of access”
“ Share customer information”
“Re-engineer the customer service chain” – lost me on that one

Strategic issues:

“Consider numbers, capacity, boundaries, utility”
“Look for links within and between sectors”
“Organic evolution Vs Big Bang” – Big Bang wastes peoples lives + costs more
“Are you fit for purpose?”


“How is a demand led system managed with a cash limited budget?”
“”Consider the costs of integration Vs Collaborative Gain” – not integration at all costs
“”How do you create a momentum for evolutionary change?”


“There are coherent and agreed principles of reform”
“We recognise that there needs to be variable operating contexts” – not uniformity for its own sake
“The improvement Service will support local innovation”
“There is a climate for change and space for change” – can we take it?

The bottom line here is that everyone of us involved in Public Service will be affected by these issues over the next few years. I always reckon it’s better to be actively involved in the change process as opposed to waiting for it to be ‘done’ to you.

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