In these times of austerity packages and public savings I ask myself why no one seems to do anything about the costs of the actual transfer system as that would save scarce resources and very well mean that we didn’t have to raise taxes for the near future.
Communicating on how to change and simplify the public way of working was one of my first assignments as a young communications officer and I have remained passionate about it ever since. No matter where we stand, the public sector always provokes heated debate. I happen to believe we need have a public sector, but I also believe that it must be changed and reformed profusely, profoundly and from bottom up.
The programme I was working on “Introducing e-Procurement in the Public Sector” was launched by Prime Minister Mr Carl Bildt, which if nothing else assured the programme immediate attention. The aim was to simplify and streamline the way the public sector was working behind the scenes, i.e. procurement and the administration around this. For starters a few core processes were identified e.g. procurement for school kitchens, certain items in hospitals etc. – i.e. processes that were relatively easy to automate. It was a complete and utterly success. One kitchen reported that they, just by changing they way the ordered dairy produce, had freed up 1 working hour per day. That is 5 hours more per week for the kitchen manager to cook food and prepare meals to the school children. And not to mention bi-products like higher work satisfaction for the kitchen staff; cheaper procurement system and more nutritious food for the children. On the seller side they were singing the same happy song; the freed up time on their side provided more opportunities for business development.
Won’t these changes mean staff reductions? Automating processes normally always means staff reductions remarks the reader. Not necessarily, the above changes meant no staff reductions. But these changes should mean staff reductions in public sector administration. Why do I advocate staff reductions in the public sector? Isn’t unemployment high enough as it is already? I am not advocating staff reductions. But what I am advocating is that public sector staff should be working with direct added value services rather than with administration that can be automated. Surely it is better to use scarce resources to care for children and elderly, teaching children to read and to fix pot holes? Rather than to administration that to a large part can be automated?
Finally, there is one more argument for a development of the type I’m talking about here – tomorrow’s generations are smaller than yesterday’s but today’s system is built based on yesterday’s larger generations something which in practise means that there won’t enough people to do all the jobs we need to get done if we don’t act. Like automating tasks that can be automated.