Reforming the public sector

I’ve been struck in the last few months by how many of our leading consultancy firms want to see reforms in how they work with the public sector. This is because, as I set out in an article in Wednesday’s Guardian, consultancies believe they could deliver still better value for the taxpayer, given the chance to do so.

We recently published a report on management consultancy in the NHS. It pointed to a series of fantastic projects that MCA members have undertaken – improving patient care and saving costs. Anyone looking at the management challenges now facing the public sector – including the need for a massive boost in productivity – will understand that management consultancy is going to be a large part of the solution.

But we’ve also called for changes – for instance, a clearer focus on the outcomes of consulting projects and greater use of contracts that reward consultancies for delivering the very best results. We’re working with many parts of the public sector to achieve these, and finding some key supporters.  For instance, the Department of Health has suggested a new concordat for how they can make best use of the resources and skills that consultancies provide.

We should move on from a sterile debate about whether the public sector should be using consultancy. The real issue is making it even better.