Attend a public finance magazine roundtable in London today on performance management. Coming just after the budget it is a great opportunity to debate the economic and financial mess the country is in and what the likely impact will be on public services.
There are some really useful contributions from people like Tony Travers of LSE, John Seddon from Vanguard, Tony Wright MP the Chair of Parliaments Public Administration Committee and John Kirkpatrick from the Audit Commission. Although I am not really allowed to report what people said until it appears in the magazine.
However, I had a go about Central Government trying to use performance management as a stick to beat people with and how top down target setting would not improve public services or generate real efficiency. In my view the answers come from the bottom upwards, those who are closest to the public engaging with them and designing services around their needs. Someone sitting in an office in Whitehall designing a once size fits all approach to service provision and then trying to impose this from afar will just not work.
We need national minimum standards combined with local flexibility and strong local performance management systems if we want to generate the necessary continuous improvement.