Thursday, 19 December 2013

Twitter Alerts come to the UK as an official emergency notification system - Dr Panos Panagiotopoulos, Lecturer in Management at Queen Mary University

Twitter’s recent launch of Twitter Alerts to users in the UK and Ireland was covered widely in the mainstream media (see here and here). The system allows users to receive information from trustworthy organisations “during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren’t accessible” (this is how it works). Twitter Alerts also come with a warning that that they do not replace other channels of distributing critical emergency information. In the UK, organisations providing alerts through Twitter includes police forces, ambulance services, the Environment Agency, the Mayor of London and the British Red Cross (the full list is here).

Monday, 9 December 2013

The future of public management education – reflections from the roundtable forum at the Centre for Government and Leadership

The British coalition government’s decision to close the National School of Government in March 2012 has been both a setback and an opportunity for public management education. The narrowing of much of the government’s “Civil service learning” programme upon training leaves a crucial gap in public management education. On the other hand, the school’s abolition has allowed universities the chance to compete to fill that gap. The roundtable organised by the Centre for Government and Leadership discussed the future of public management education in the UK and internationally.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Why can't ministers and senior servants get along? A beginner's guide to bad blood, Universal Credit, blame, briefings and Civil Service Reform - Prof Perri 6, Chair in Public Management, Queen Mary

"War" has broken out, journalists say. Introducing a confrontation between Conservative MP and former police and criminal justice minister, Nick Herbert and former cabinet secretary, Lord (previously Sir Robin) Butler on BBC Radio 4’s “The Week in Westminster” on Saturday 30th November, the Daily Telegraph’s Peter Oborne positively salivated with enthusiasm in telling us that hostilities between ministers and the senior civil service are at their fiercest for generations. Conservative bloggers such as Peter Hoskin are similarly excited.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Does “pay for performance” work? - Dr Lucia Corno, Lecturer in Economics at Queen Mary University of London

It’s become a stock piece of management consultant’s advice to public authorities: “Design a pay scheme to reward people for performing better and that’s just what they’ll do”. But is that true?

Take the National Health Service in the UK. In April 2004, the NHS introduced a performance related pay (PRP) scheme as part of something called the Quality and Outcome Framework. The idea was to reward doctors, anesthetists and nurses who achieved or exceeded their targets for quality with bonuses worth between a quarter and a third of their salary. There were no fewer than 136 quality indicators. These covered everything from how chronic conditions are managed, through the way that practices are run, all the way to the patients’ experience of care.[i]

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, speaks at Queen Mary on 'How Government Really Works'

Speaking to the Mile End Group at Queen Mary University of London on Monday 28th October, former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, spoke of the need for governments to modernise and adapt to a rapidly changing world.You will find a full transcript and video of the the event here

The Future of Public Administration - A Roundtable Forum held at Queen Mary University of London

The Centre for Government and Leadership at Queen Mary University of London will be hosting a Roundtable Forum on Wednesday 13th November at 13:00

The topic of discussion will be 

The Future of Public Management

What skills will public servants and public managers need in the coming decade?
What role will universities and national schools of public administration play in developing them?

Guest speakers:
Professor Marga Pröhl, Director-General of the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA)
Professor Marcel Proulx, former CEO of the Canadian School of Public Management (ENAP)
Professor Les Metcalfe, Professor Emeritus of Public Management, University of Bocconi; Visiting Professor at Queen Mary University of London

Forum Chair:
Professor Martin Laffin, Head of School, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London

This event is open to the public, if you would like to attend, please reserve your ticket here

The event will take place in the Colette Bowe Room, Queen's Building, Mile End Campus, E1 4NS

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Social media can contribute to government responsiveness not only by increasing the speed and volume of interactions with the public - Dr Panos Panagiotopoulos, Lecturer in Management at Queen Mary University

National and local governments are using social media innovatively to become more responsive to their public. Panos Panagiotopoulos argues that government agencies should think about their use of social media as a way to become more responsive and to educate and influence and should focus less on measuring the speed and volume of interactions. Government agencies should use social media to listen and engage proactively with specific audiences. The UK Food Standards Agency’s digital engagement activities show how this approach can be put into practice.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

It could cost more than it is worth... why the government's plan to charge visitors for NHS care looks like another Child Support Agency in the making - Prof Perri 6, Chair in Public Management, Queen Mary

Getty Images
Some people from outside Europe who make use of the National Health Service are to be charged for their care, the British government announced on Tuesday 22nd October. We've seen proposals for more effective and thorough efforts to charge people for NHS care before, of course. And some hospitals – mainly larger urban ones – do make efforts to charge where they can. Now research commissioned by the Department of Health estimates that much bigger sums could be found by more determined charging, although the researchers admit that there are a great many contentious assumptions in their numbers.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Females to the fore in reshuffle – but women’s policy input may remain limited

As expected, David Cameron has boosted the number of women in his Government. But this strategy is problematic,argue Professors Claire Annesley and Francesca Gainsand may not address the lack of women’s policy input in decision making.
Earlier this spring Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s former spin doctor, suggested that ‘Sam Cam’ was the Conservatives’ ‘secret weapon’ to win back women’s votes. This is a clear sign that in the run up to the next election the battle to win women’s votes is intensifying – and for good reason.
For many years after winning the franchise women in the UK were more likely to vote Conservative, and the ‘gender gap’ (the difference in the Conservative lead over Labour between male and female votes) was in double figures. In the 1970s and 1980s, as women’s roles in the home and the workplace changed, the gender difference in voting narrowed and psephologists argued that sex differences were not important in understanding UK voting patterns.
However the re-emergence of a small but significant gender gap in 1992, reflecting a swing by younger women to Labour, led to a sustained interest by the Labour Party in identifying and mobilising around women’s interests and demands which contributed to their successful 1997 return to office.
In the face of recent polling data, which shows falling support for the Conservative from women, the party has sought – rather belatedly – to proffer a more female friendly campaign strategy.

Friday, 18 October 2013

McBride's Muddle - Prof Perri 6, Chair in Public Management, Queen Mary

This week Damian McBride, sometime Treasury communications leader and later special advisor to Gordon Brown, published an article in Prospect magazine entitled “Not fit for purpose”. McBride claims that the policy failures and fiascos which have been discussed at length in books published this year such as Anthony King’s and Ivor Crewe’s “The blunders of our governments[i] and Richard Bacon’s and Christopher Hope’s “Conundrum[ii] are principally the result of the civil service being out of touch, of there being too few people among the upper echelons of the service who are female, young, from working class origins, from regions far from London, not from expensive schools and universities, or indeed who have not previously worked in the Treasury. Overcoming the narrowness of recruitment will, he claims, make the civil service more meritocratic and more “fit for purpose”.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

All uphill from up on The Hill - the long slog back from the government shutdown - Prof Perri 6, Chair in Public Management
What concentrated minds on Capitol Hill was not the shutdown itself, let alone the consequences for the administration of public services of the last three weeks of closure, muddle and misery. It was the need to raise the debt ceiling before the markets would have deemed the US to be in default. No surprise, perhaps, unless there were some political surprises about the terms on which the Republicans settled. However, it does mean that the shutdown will have been a little shorter in duration than that of 1996.

But, as discussed in the first posting on this blog, there will be consequences for federally administered public services, not only from the shutdown (as that first post examined) but from the manner of its ending.

The simplest is the one that has garnered headlines. The bill rushed through Congress on Wednesday night included a clause – that’s section 1001a to those of you who are insomniacs – with the adrenaline pumping title “Verification of household income and other qualifications for the provision of ACA premium and cost sharing subsidies”.[i] Don’t ever say they don’t know how to write a thriller up in Congress. This is the sop to the Republicans on Mr Obama’s health care law which says that officials must take extra care to check (“ensure that American Health Benefit Ex-changes verify”) that those who apply for subsidies declare their income accurately and truthfully. Ironically, this was given as a concession to a political party which is generally disposed to regard the work of the executive in doing diligent checks as “red tape”. Anyway, more work for officials, who are trying to operate IT systems for Obamacare in many states which are already creaking.[ii]

The bigger issue now is just how temporary the settlement will feel to staff who think they can get better jobs elsewhere and to contractors who think they might be able to find more reliable payers than federal government. The bill funds government until 15th January and debt repayments until February 7th, but there is a provision that enables government to use some emergency powers to go on paying after that date for a while. The best outcome for twitchy staff and contractors will be a settlement between the parties well before then, so that the US is not put through this same wringer all over again in the New Year. But it’s too early to count on that yet. In the face of this uncertainty, I’d expect to see contractors demanding either a premium on their prizes or other kinds of clauses in contracts to transfer risks back to government, if they are going to be prepared to enter fresh arrangements. America will find itself paying for the consequences of this shutdown and its messy, provisional end in all sorts of ways, and paying for years to come.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Austerity Politics and Administrative Reform: The Eurozone Crisis and its Impact upon Greek Public Administration

Dr Stella Ladi, Senior Lecturer in Public Management at Queen Mary's School of Business and Management presents her recent article; 

Austerity politics and administrative reform: The Eurozone crisis and its impact upon Greek public administration 

available here to read online or download in PDF.


Greece was the first European Monetary Union (EMU) country to sign a Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) with the European Commission (EC) and the European Central Bank (ECB) in order to secure financial assistance and prevent a total collapse of its economy following the severe international economic crisis. The MEFP (2010) and the more detailed Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality (SEPC) (2010) offered elaborate steps of structural reforms that have affected all public services in Greece. The lack of major results and the stickiness of the ‘Greek problem’ have made Greece a unique case study for evaluating both the recipe of the international lenders and the domestic capacity for reform. A historical institutionalist approach and the concept of ‘policy paradigm’ are combined here in order to evaluate what the conditions for a major administrative reform in time of crisis are. The article focuses on the specific attempt to reform public administration during the Papandreou government in order to analyse the importance of both time and type of change in the success of a major reform programme.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Coming back to the office with a hangover… and that’s just the US government – why the “shutdown” is a public management problem - Professor Perri 6

Jessie Owen - License: CC BY 2.0
Suppose you knew that sooner or later you would do something self-destructive. Perhaps you can’t stop yourself binge drinking. Or even self-harming. If you really can’t prevent yourself, maybe you can write a plan for how you’ll cope when you do reach for the bottle or the knife. But what about the morning afterward? Did you remember to include something in your plan about how you’ll manage your recovery?

I’m not sure that the US government has.

Newspapers and Twittersphere are full of comment about which party is to blame for the “partial” shutdown of US federal government, what it’s doing to the US and the world economy and how much worse it would be if the US were to default. There’s plenty of discussion about the plight of the veterans, the homeless, the litigants, citizens who need passports and others who use federal government services. There are stories about the plight of the workers “furloughed” – that’s being “laid off without pay but still technically employed” to you and me. (Oh, and while we’re thinking about being “technically employed”, you try resigning and taking up another job with tax and social security payments when there’s no one left in HR to register your resignation.)

But this is not just a political, an economic, a social policy or a labour relations problem. It is also a public management problem. In particular, restarting government will bring new headaches, on top of the ones caused during the shutdown itself.