Sunday, July 01, 2007

Parliamentary scepticism on efficiency gains

Last week the Treasury select committee issued its report on The 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review: prospects and processes.

Interestingly the report noted the National Audit Office’s concerns about the robustness of measurement processes for efficiency gains. The Treasury committee addressed these issues in its conclusions:

We recommend that the Government ensure that a clearer performance measurement framework is established for the efficiency programme from 2008-09 onwards, including a greater role for external audit of service quality than hitherto.

It also recommended a coherent framework for the verification and reporting of savings on a consistent basis as part of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. (It also qureried the value of the fairly arbitrary head count targets that have been adopted.)

I would personally have recommended a healthy scepticism to almost all fanfares, reports, etc on the size of efficiency gains being delivered. I'm all for efficiency (better procurement, lean processes, more productive time and the rest) but I suspect that too many figures are affected by wishful thinking and sloppy measurement.

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