Memorandum by Serviceteam Ltd (PSR 28)
6. Yes. Service receivers have a sophisticated
understanding of the customer/supplier relationship. The old style
of public service was about uniformity, conformity and welfarism.
Current plans start with changing what exists incrementallyan
approach that will always resist innovation and fail to make the
step change necessary to achieve genuinely customer driven, effective
services. The challenge is to develop local authorities to focus
on quality of life improvement FREE of the responsibility of service
provision, which compromises their decision making and blunts
the desire to achieve social justice. People want improved service
outcomes/delivery and they don't mind who delivers them or how
they get them.
7. A public service ethos does exist. It
is the idea that the quality of service delivery should be independent
of the private motives or prejudices of the individuals or organisation
delivering the service. It is about social justice, social equity,
community responsibility and democratic accountability. Local
authorities have no more "ownership" of a public service
ethos than does anyone else, public, private or voluntary.
8. This question can only be answered with
reference to the word "sector". The issue being examined
is a public service ethos, not a public sector ethos, which clearly
are distinct. The idea of a public service ethos is not confined
to the public sector. Good and bad examples of service delivery
by individuals, companies or organisations can be found in every
sector of public service provision. We should focus on what works
on the basis of open and fair competition, regardless of provider.
The public service ethos cannot, therefore, be compared to the
idea of a private sector or a voluntary sector ethos.
A public sector ethos could be defined as better
terms and conditions, worse sickness records etc than other sectors.
Arguments about top-flight salaries are a smoke screen for the
fact that public servants have generous employment packages with
greater job security. Generally, the private sector achieves much
greater productivity within a more cost-effective and accountable
9. The idea of a public service ethos can
be counter-productive when appropriated within a monopolistic
setting, whether that is a private or public monopoly, as the
"ethos" can be distorted to become an ideologically-motivated
device referring to ownership of service rather than an attitude
towards delivering a public good.
10. The idea of a single public service
is both immensely impractical and very undesirable. In practice,
the creation of a "super service" would lead to an unwieldy
monopoly, impenetrable, self-protective and less dynamic than
smaller, more transparent organisations. It would exhibit the
worst characteristics of the old nationalised monopolies: inertia
in communications, decision-making and implementation, disdain
for rights of the end-user and financial unaccountabilitythe
very qualities that led to a consensus that reform was necessary
in the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, it is hard to see how such a
single entity could be created to deliver the range of services
that might be included under the rubric of public service, as
this could include rail services, policing, health, education,
municipal services and even defence. Serviceteam does not support
any consideration of this proposal as we believe in the importance
of innovation, flexibility and difference.
11. Profit-driven organisations can exhibit
a public service ethos. Indeed, Serviceteam takes pride in delivering
municipal services and we would consider ourselves to exhibit
a public service ethos. We have to be very specific about what
can be delivered and at what cost, and we come under intense scrutiny
in meeting the standards set in contracts. Overbidding, underbidding
and failure to deliver are all too easily exposed, particularly
under the Best Value inspection regime, so it is in our interests
to be honest, open and reliable in our dealings with local authorities
and workforces. The ethos is enshrined in our adherence to performance
standards and to our contractual obligations.
The scrutiny applied to private contractors
would disqualify many local authorities from providing the same
services. However, legitimising their actions on the basis of
democratic accountability, local authorities defend their right
to waste public money through the inefficient and ineffective
management of public services.
12. Open book accounting with a pre-agreed
profit margin and value sharing over and above this level. Partnerships
to deliver Public Service Agreements are also a good way to construct
frameworks within which private contractors and local authorities
can agree on flexibility within contracts, which would allay some
of the scepticism the public sector has about the private sector's
ability to go beyond service specifications.
14. No. It is their business to define it
as business process and culture regardless of the delivery mechanism.
Most of these advisors are ex-public sector workers. No special
measures are required.
15. It clearly improves our ability to work
with the public sector, because the social and ethical context
of our work becomes increasingly explicit. Private sector partners
become more suitable to public service partnerships if they are
prepared to provide tangible benefits in relation to these corporate
governance matters. Recent examples are not good, although the
CBI and others are championing the idea that good ethics are good
16. There is no reason why workers in the
public or private sectors, given satisfactory pay and conditions,
cannot deliver first class public services. However, public sector
workers too often focus on their rights rather than responsibilities.
Private sector staff are just as loyal and committed to public
service. Motivation and cultural management of staff groups are
key. Competition should focus on the organisation that will maximise
the socially beneficial outcomes through the effective and positive
management of these staff groups. Yes, motivation impacts directly
on service quality.
17. Public attitudes change according to
a variety of influences, particularly direct experience of service
delivery and media coverage of public services. Serviceteam believes
that the public would be happy with any provider that delivers
consistently, that brings service improvement and good quality
of life outcomes. That is why constant improvement in Best Value
is a positive approach towards service deliveryagain, regardless
18. The key to this question is how different
types of organisations are accountable to the public and to service
partners. The obvious measure that cuts across sectors is service
delivery standards, and Serviceteam does not feel that the voluntary
sector should be any less regulated within the Best Value inspection
regime. The rules should apply to all public service providers
alike. If the rules currently applied to private sector organisations
were applied to local authorities, the private sector would make
significant inroads into this market.