Government needs ‘public value framework to improve efficiency’

21 Nov 17

A report has recommended the government introduce a framework across departments to boost public sector efficiency.

The Barber review suggested a ‘public value framework’ should be adopted by government to better assess the likely results of its spending.  

It would consist of questions “organised systemically” that would act as a check-list to ensure a department is working towards improving its performance, the report released on Friday last week suggested.

The questions would “ensure that those responsible for spending public money do so with a better understanding of how to maximise its impact” and would be based on four ‘pillars’.

The ‘pillars’ would be pursuing goals, managing inputs, engaging users and citizens, and developing system capacity.

Report author Sir Michael Barber said the aim was to “embed a new approach to productivity in the day-to-day working of government”.

“That means changing how Treasury and departments work together to maximise public value.”

Chief Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We must ensure every pound of public spending is as effective as possible.

“Sir Michael’s report is a vital step as we aim to create a culture of public services that continuously improve.”

The report noted the UK spent about £800bn every year, around 40% of GDP but Whitehall and the wider public sector had not addressed “culture change cultures and behaviours within government to do better in future” to ensure maximum efficiency.

The report said the framework “would facilitate shared learning not just within a given department or system but across all areas of public expenditure”.

It added: “It should enable continuous improvement and, as a result, increase the public value delivered to taxpayers.”

Deputy director of think-tank Institute for Government Julian McCrae said it was a “good framework” but the government “really need to get on with it”.

Barber was the former head of the Blair-era ‘prime minister's delivery unit’, which was set up in 2001 to deliver on Tony Blair’s key campaign issues.

The government is expected to respond to the review in the Budget tomorrow. 

Barber was commissioned by the government to review civil service efficiency in March.

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