Posted tagged ‘donald rumsfeld’

Known knowns

November 22, 2011

An unlikely local government inspiration?

We love local government loves a guest post and today we are delighted to have one from an old friend of the blog. Today’s (s)he channels Donald Rumsfeld to ask how often we, as local government workers, really ‘know’ what we thing we know. It’s a good challenge and one well worth five minutes of your time. Enjoy!

I was reminded this week of the time before Miss Guest Blogger and Master Guest Blogger came along that Mrs Guest Blogger and I used to enjoy a lie in on a Sunday morning and listen to Eddie Mair presenting Broadcasting House on Radio 4.  My favourite part of this was always the Donald Rumsfeld soundbite of the week, which amazingly you can find archived here.  The most popular one of these was his known knowns quote which you can see here and here.

It is funny to say but he had a point which I was reminded of when listening to the coverage of the Euro crisis at the moment and the over use of the word uncertainty.

This led me to ponder; how much do I actually know as opposed to how much I think I might know? To quote Rumsfled what are my real ‘known knowns’?

Too often we think that we know more than we do.  The best part of the PRINCE2 Project Initiation Document proforma for me was always the ‘assumptions’ section, and it was largely the worst completed as people struggles to think about what they already thought.

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Local Government by contract?

April 11, 2011

Beyond the known knowns?

“Stuff Happens” (Donald Rumsfeld)

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” (John Maynard Keynes)

Forgive the diversion into quotes from yester-year but I hope they will help me ask a simple question about the outsourcing of council services.

This past week I have been knee deep in a contract with an external service provider of my local authority. This contract is for a substantial period of time and yet already we are in the position of needing to change something.

Obviously, needing to change something is going to cost us money. Even the most friendly contractor does, in my experience, require a certain amount of money to change anything they’d originally agreed to do.

The assumption of a lot of outsourcing is therefore that:

a)      Any changes can be predicted in advance and therefore written into a contract or:

b)      The service is so straightforward that we won’t need to change anything significant no matter how long the period of the contract

My experience is that this is not always the case.

I heard of a council that felt they had managed to negotiate an amazing deal. In 2007 (ish) they let a ten year contract that promised 2.5% efficiencies per year over the term of the deal. In 2011, they now realise that the deal is not delivering anything like what they need it to in terms of cuts/efficiencies and are not having much luck in renegotiating. What they thought was a great deal is now anything but. (more…)