Politics.co.uk Blog

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A brain dump

A wave of jargon is sweeping across the public sector. If coterminous thinking outside the box is not immediately meaningfully dialogued, plain English champions are warning there is a grave danger the government will go bottom-up.

This paradigm has only been uncovered following a brain dump from the Local Government Association, whose engagement in blue-sky thinking on the problem of better sense-capacity offers the best hope for winning headroom for change.

"The public sector must not hide behind impenetrable jargon and phrases," the LGA's fast-tracked fulcrum of functionality, councillor Margaret Eaton, explains. This iteration is cautiously welcomed by most, for surely local authority catalysts have already actioned area-focused steps?

Alas, predictors of beaconicity appear to have taken a deep dive. Ms Eaton's knowledge bite shows just how far from a level playing field the direction of travel currently is.

"Why do we have to have a 'webinar trialogue for the wellderly' when the public sector could just 'talk about caring for the elderly' instead?" she asks.

Ms Easton's efforts to create leverage by engaging users are compact and full of cross-fertilisation, but one questions whether she has a full appreciation of the cashable cohesiveness her demands imply.

After all, civil servants, whether interdepartmental or cross-sectoral, have a can-do culture where benchmarking and incentivising offer an early win. Has she had enough face-time to edge-fit her innovative capacities? One fears her conclusions may form a low-light, not a baseline benchmark of best practice.

Undeterred, her horizon-scanning continues nonetheless. "Any organisation that spends taxpayers' money has a duty, not only to provide value for money to local people, but also to tell them what they get for the money they pay," she says. "People would be furious if they had no idea of what services their cash is paying for and how they should get to use them."

Wait! Perhaps her extensible pursuit of learning outcomes offers some meaningful reusable interactivity, after all. We propose a menu of options which could help provide improvement levers.

Firstly, clients could receive a core value compendium from a combination of pooled budget, pooled resources and pooled risk. But there are fears a swimming pool to help the mandarins calm down might distort spending priorities. So a quick dip in the revenue streams might prove more joined-up.

Alternatively, a transformational trajectory could be provided by a thought shower. Again, there may be disbenefits. The idea of naked civil servants wallowing in their own self-aggrandizement probably offers a bit too much transparency.

We must discount outright the desperate final option. The least said about pump priming the better.

"We do not pretend to be perfect," Ms Eaton continues, a little desperately, before adding that "we are striving to make sure that people get the chance to understand what services we provide".

We are all agreed, then: without future proofing against this verbose threat no one is safe. Significant slippage in wordy standards has been reported. This is a step-change for the worse. All the signposts suggest there is no quick win towards normalisation. Besides, they haven't been tested for soundness.

Britain's governors face a problem which must be solved across-the-piece, otherwise the next generation of facilitators will face a real hereditament.

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