Posted tagged ‘measurement’

Productivity in the Public Sector, or value?

March 29, 2011

Are we productive or valuable?

We continue our week with a brilliant guest post which hit our inbox.  If you have something about local government you’d like to share with the world e-mail it to us at welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com, but not until you’ve enjoyed this.

One of the most corrosive “narratives” around at the moment in the media, and amongst the commentariat, is that the public sector is unproductive.

The private sector creates jobs, promotes growth, and pumps needed cash into the economy. The public sector is parasitical, taking a cut of the economic wealth of the nation and siphoning it off to support a never-ending tide of bureaucrats and middle-managers, none of whom are involved in front-line service delivery – yet who are adept at feathering their own nests.

A lot of commentators are keen to argue that such people are inherently unproductive. They are the antithesis of entrepreneurs – dynamic go-getters with the will to succeed and the knowledge that if they fail, the buck stops with them. And they’re the polar opposite of the chief executives of big corporations – who stand and fall by the support of their stakeholders, who have the freedom to take their money out and invest elsewhere if they’re unhappy with the direction of the company in which they have a stake.

Simplification? Quite possibly. But it’s a compelling argument if the only public services you see day-to-day are rubbish collection and street lighting. And it’s an argument born of enraged impotence – firstly, at the injustice of a world where the richest spoils go to those who do the least to earn them, and secondly, at the utter unaccountability of these pen-pushers in their non-jobs – even though, as the refrain often goes, “we pay their wages!” (more…)