In praise of inefficiency
- There is a school of thought that Surestart is actually becoming less effective as it becomes more superficially efficient and professionalised, but less rooted in communities.
- How do you best work with community organisations? Contractual agreements or untied grants? The contractual agreements are more �efficient� � you know what you�re getting or your money � but do they destroy the value that the voluntary sector brings with it?
- Competition is great for efficiency. But sometimes high turnover of providers actually damages the level of service we receive. We want a long-standing relationship with our GP, don�t we?
- On the face of it, several different providers might provide the best �value for money� in discreet areas of service provision. But fragmented contracts can lead to �dumping� of problems on different agencies. As John Williams asked in Public last year, would it be better to contract the same company to run a broad sweep of services to encourage joined up working and investment in preventative services? This takes scale and time to achieve.
- We want a productive state sector. But - as David Walker pointed out last week - aren�t some of our existing efficiency measures out of touch with reality? Rising class sizes means more �productive� schools (less teachers for the same number of pupils taught), but is that what we really want? More bobbies on the beat may be less �productive�, but more valued by the public. Which one do you go for?
...and most importantly of all - how do you create a public sector which is continually able to adapt and reshape itself around new challenges and opportunities as they arise, rather than simply deliver the same service a little more efficiently?
These are all the uncomfortable kinds of questions that New Zealand is asking itself as it looks towards its next wave of reform, based not just on what you measure, but what people really care about.