Friday, September 30, 2005

P-G Advice: Dealing with the Public Sector

Andrew notes various reports on the amount of our hard-earned cash that goes to line the pockets of consultants to the various suckers on the ends of the various tentacles of the giant squid that is the "Public Sector" in this land of misrule.

He finishes by making a
Mental note: Harangue the boss about pitching to some of these idiots potential clients with budgets to burn.

As you are no doubt aware, your public-spirited Pedant-General is rather a polymath. Here, therefore, is my advice to the hapless Andrew in his question for a non-trivial solution.

Dealing with the Public Sector

Don't - whatever you do - have anything to do with the Public Sector.

Ok. Perhaps I ought to expand on this a little:

A little more detail on Dealing with the Public Sector

Your clients will despise you for trying to help. They will actively obstruct your work. They will then blame YOU for being late.

Any request for a decision about anything is endlessly referred upwards, sideways and often back down again, before being declared any entirely separate issue in its own right, requiring meetings, committees, steering groups, best practice sharing and involvement of everyone from the Chief Exec to the cleaning lady before any decision is made. (see here for a crisp analysis of why this happens)

This meeting will be scheduled (6 months away, because that is the first available slot for all the huge variety of people who must be consulted). The night before the meeting it will be cancelled because one of your laziest clients, who had been tasked with the production of some briefing paper for this meeting, has not done so and declares that he is "out of hours" - i.e. that he has used his 35 hours for the week - and the Working Time Directive forbids him to do anymore. Obviously, there is absolutely nothing that can be done about this and the meeting must be postponed. Your expenses budget will be charged for the cancellation fees for the meeting rooms, coffee, transport, etc. etc.

This is fine if you have:
  1. a cast-iron time and materials contract;
  2. skin thicker than a rhino;
  3. no morals or concern for the public good;
  4. no ability to feel disgust at the fact that the charlatans who are your clients have performance related pay that is not related to performance and an index-linked final salary pension scheme that is not remotely tied to their or their employer's contributions.

P-G Prescription:
Fire the lot of them. Big government is always bad government. Get rid of them: the consultants will still find something useful to do - they tend to be resourceful people....


Devil's Kitchen said...

This has been exactly my experience of working with the public sector. It's a massive pain in the arse and they seem to have no quibbles about wasting your time and "their" money.

We had a project that should have taken a month. In the end, it took 8 months.


Andrew said...

Two words, my friends: Day Rate.

I have 2 & 3, 4 can be bought with a sufficiently high rate, and 1 shouldn't be a problem for my lawyer.

But I take your point...

The Gorse Fox said...

Don't get me started!

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


If 2 & 3 are "givens" for you, might I humbly suggest that makes you perfect material for leader of the Conservative Party?


Toodle Pip!