Today’s highly dubious announcement of supposed ‘efficiency savings’ by the Government reinforces the need for independent Standards for reporting performance and efficiency in the public sector. Today I’ve published a ‘White Paper’ calling for changes to achieve that.
The Government published, on 9th August, its latest claims about improvements in efficiency. It claimed efficiency savings of £5.5bn, an seemingly impressive figure.
However, as I pointed out in the previous blog post, these figures are mostly not ‘efficiency savings’, but merely cuts.
This is important for two reasons says:
Firstly, it undermines public confidence and accountability when misleading figures are published. The 1979-97 Conservative government, the 1997-2010 Labour government and the current Coalition government have all been guilty of this.
Secondly, it undermines real improvements in efficiency and performance of public services when measurement and reporting are so badly done. It means government and public service leaders don’t really have accurate information. It also means there is constant, and costly, “reinventing the wheel” going on with multiple monitoring agencies demanding data in different formats, working to different definitions, etc.
So I have proposed in my White Paper that what is needed are “Generally Accepted Reporting Standards for Public Performance”, similar to accounting standards, enforced by an Office of Public Performance.
The White Paper is published as part of the “policy@manchester” initiative that brings together over 300 academics from across the University of Manchester who are engaged with various aspects of public policy.
You can download the full White Paper here (just click on “Full text”) [PS – this document is now in PDF format to make it more accessible]
10 thoughts on “Standards for Public Performance Reporting (White Paper) published”
I like this idea. It would be interesting to see what a specific GARSPP might look like (ie are they at the level of principle or are there many GARSPPs for each domain of government). I can see how they might work as a set of overarching principles but GAAP gets much more specific and detailed, and this is where its power lies: there’s no room for argument about something.
My supposition is that GARSPP would start with agreeing a general set of concepts, minimum information standards and verification procedures. It would inevitably become more detailed – possibly with specific sub-sets of standards for sub-sections or types of public activity – in due course. Like GAAP it would evolve, and hopefully become more powerful, over time.
Normally standards create a hierarchy. What will happen in this case?
Jaroslav, I am not sure what you mean by “standards create a hierarchy”. As with public financial accounting standards, I am assuming organisations reporting performance or efficiency results would have to pass a minimum standard of reporting in terms of definitions and categories, accuracy and verification.
State comptrollers/auditors make their best that public sector organizations have the same system of reporting as it helps them to decrease transaction costs and simplified audit. However nobody thought that there is huge amount of small public organizations with less staff which will be not able to pass a minimum standard due to lack of capacity. This what I mean by hiearchy as normally standards serve as the matrix for big public sector organizations.