11 June 2014

Rt Hon Francis Maude, UK Minister for the Cabinet Office claims that productive, effective and successful government has delivered nearly $30 billion in savings over the last 12 months. (This somewhat uncertain figure is a comparison with spending in 2009.)

These savings flow from being “…open, tight, loose, digital, innovative…”

He believes that the job of saving money in government can never end. “…The business of reform from now on has to become business as usual. There will always be new ways of saving money: there are always better ways of doing things…”  He will carry on “…pushing, challenging and driving departments to deliver more for less…”.

Being open, tight, loose, digital and innovative are the principles of public service reform distilled from the British experience.


“The first principle is open, because being transparent builds trust, sharpens accountability and drives improvements. Taxpayers can see how their money is spent and people can judge how services perform. It can also stimulate economic growth…”.

“The second principle is ….tight control from the centre over common activities. We introduced spending controls ….to create a proper corporate centre for government and exert the same standards which you would find in large businesses. Those controls account for more than half the savings…”

“But… loose control over front line operations, is my third principle…. diversifying the range of public service providers – supporting mutuals, joint ventures and social enterprises in delivering public services….. Already there are nearly 100 staff-owned mutuals in the UK delivering around £1.5 billion worth of public services while cutting costs and dramatically improving productivity.”

The fourth principle is innovation. Public servants need to have permission to try sensible new ideas so we can move away from the risk aversion that has held progress back. ../ you learn more from the ideas you try which don’t work, than from those that do.”

The fifth principle is digital by default, because as well as being much cheaper, services delivered online can be faster, simpler and more convenient for the public to use. … also make things easier for citizens and businesses who rely on the services.”

The Ministers view is that the changing culture in the Civil Service is “…faster and less bureaucratic, focused on the delivery of outcomes, rather than process or structures…”

While Francis Maude champions more for less, today is the anniversary of  New Zealand’s imperial aspirations, with the annexation of the Cook Islands in 1901.