Friday 5 August 2005

Beyond the Fringe?

I'm very tempted to take up this offer:
SCOTLAND'S most senior civil servant has challenged critics of the public sector to spend a week with a member of his staff so they can see how hard they work.
At least Mr Elvidge has acknowledged that:
... there is a series of legitimate questions about 'busy doing what?' and how productive people are.
But the whole point is that it's almost impossible to measure productivity without there being a market. The Scottish Tories want to reduce the number of civil servants down to pre-devolution levels. But that's just not good enough: pre-devolution, schools and medical services in Scotland were almost entirely run by the state. If we are to (not that we should) force taxpayers to finance the education and health businesses it should be done by issuing vouchers. At least we'd then have the means to measure productivity rather more scientifically than by following our servants (sic) around their offices.

There again, perhaps I've misunderstood Mr Elvidge's kind offer. Following civil servants at work may well be funnier than some of the comedy shows now starting on the Fringe.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Update: reports and correspondence in the media suggest that the Scottish Executive have made an enormous cock-up in awarding some shipbuilding contracts outwith Scotland. 
Presumably the orders will be cancelled. The fact that payment has to be made from Scotland will undoubtedly be an important factor. We can surely rely on the Minister of Finance.

27 August 2005, 10:23:25 GMT+01:00
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On the subject of VFM and shipbuilding losses to Scotland - this website links to the Scots Independent. 
The SI contains an especially interesting comment : 
"One factor not taken into consideration was raised some time ago by Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, now the Deputy Leader of the SNP; Nicola pointed out that whereas the difference in the price quoted for the two vessels was some £2 million, the unemployment and redundancy costs involved for Ferguson’ would amount to some £5 million. Makes a mockery of the public interest." 
The Taxpayers' Alliance reported that £81 billion of UK public expenditure was wasted in 2004. This came to nearly 20% of public spending. It can be concluded that, although the UK legislated for VFM many years ago, it wasn't really serious. Pretendy value for money?

12 August 2005, 10:54:14 GMT+01:00
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Neil Craig
A debate between Ivor & Gorgeous George would beat any normal politics for entertainment value. 
On the other hand a CD player designed by George would be unlikely to provide entertainment.

10 August 2005, 22:39:19 GMT+01:00
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Some implications for Scotland of doing the wrong thing well? Today sees an article: 'A Glasgow shipyard loses a contract in its own backyard … but is the writing really on the wall for Scottish manufacturing?' 
“What we’re getting is an evacuation. Manufacturing is abandoning Scotland. There’s no new inward investment to replace the foreign companies that have left and no indigenous growth,” says Ivor Tiefenbrun, whose company Linn Products makes CD players, tuners, amplifiers and speakers in Scotland and exports to more than 50 countries. “Scotland is on the way out. In my view, the country is f***ed."

7 August 2005, 09:44:15 GMT+01:00
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Mr Elvidge's offer is indeed hilarious. Of little consequence is how hard public servants work. Crucially management text books tell us there's no point in doing the wrong thing well. 
This misguided thinking in Parliament doubtless led to the huge overspend on the Holyrood building contract. Another example may be the award of two public contracts to an overseas shipbuilding company. 
Instead, perhaps Scotland's most senior servant could stretch his offer to allow the independent VFM audit of the public finances under the control of the Scottish Executive?

5 August 2005, 16:49:50 GMT+01:00