One of the things that irritates me is the attempt to apply industrial models of practice and measurement to Government. I was recently asked to write a brief paper on the applicability of EVA™, (a type of net present value measure) to Government. As a part of that I produced a summary of the reasons why I think Government is different from Industry, and by implication why models designed for Industry are unlikely to work in Government.
Apologies by the way for the absence of blogs this week. I have been at KM World in San Jose and working dawn to dusk.
One of the main drivers for Government over the next 15 years is to do far more with far less. They will also have to do this in the face of increasing political uncertainty and possible catastrophic shifts in the various eco-systems of the world. This means that:
On the basis of the above Governments face a far more significant set of issues and problems than those faced by industry, and they face them over longer periods of time without the option of bankruptcy. Citizens cannot buy their services from another government, if their own fails. Neither can they insure against the consequences of a catastrophic failure of their state, they have to live with it.
In addition Governments, to a greater extent than industry have to consider multiple interactions and interdependencies between initiatives and actions. Considering decisions in isolation can have major downstream costs. For example in the UK the decision to outsource hospital cleaning is at least one of the causes of the current crisis in hospital hygiene, to quote from the Observer
THE TRUE scale of Britain’s hospital superbug problems emerged yesterday as a leading hospital trust admitted that a ‘hypervirulent’ infection had claimed the lives of at least 49 patients – and possibly as many as 78 people – in the space of nine months.
A focus on efficiency failed to recognise that hygiene is a part of the total health care provision. Laxity in an office cleaning contract rarely has fatal consequences and a failure to meet standards can be satisfactorily handled by penalty clauses in contracts. Now this was not the only cause. Excessive use of chemicals and antibiotics has bred a generation of super bugs, and increasingly levels of hygiene in the day to day lives of citizens has reduced natural immunities. In effect we have provided an evolutionary advantage to the enemy! The point here is to illustrate in respect of government in comparison with industry
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A report on the BBC this morning suggests that parents should buy an exercise machine ...