Incendiary Procurement

Whatever the enquiry finds, it is without doubt that Grenfell Tower went up like a dry stick because its refurbishment was procured at least in part on the basis of price. If the same fire had started in one of the gleaming new blocks in London’s docklands, it would not have spread. The people buying … Continue reading

Nine cheap warehouses

Michael Gove, Justice Secretary, has announced his intention to build nine new prisons. These will be much needed replacements for some of the old, crumbling prison estate. However, there are important questions to ask about financing and outsourcing. Lazy thinking on location must be challenged. Their long-term value will also depend on whether their purpose … Continue reading

Misguided or misleading?

The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, rightly praises the achievements of the Peterborough and Doncaster pilots for their impact on reoffending rates. But is his suggestion that the national outsourcing of probation services will resemble these pilots worryingly misguided or purposefully misleading? http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/07/prisoners-reoffend-coalition-cycle-probation-service-support These two small pilot programmes have been working with offenders sentenced to less … Continue reading

Grayling’s secret revolution

Chris Grayling, the UK’s Secretary of State for Justice and “Tory attack dog”, is about to do what Thatcher and successive Prime Ministers (of all persuasions) were unable to achieve – throw the public sector open to total privatisation. Grayling’s so-called ‘rehabilitation revolution’ entails taking the existing probation service, currently sitting within relatively independent local … Continue reading

Spend to offend (the outsourcing of probation)

The Ministry of Justice has set out the proposed payment mechanism for the forthcoming “rehabilitation programme” contracts (http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/rehab-prog/payment-mechanism.pdf). The mechanism appears to be a relatively straightforward and robust funding model. However, despite the rhetoric about a “rehabilitation revolution” (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/12-months-supervision-for-all-prisoners-on-release), this is the outsourcing of probation, pure and simple. It has the potential to deliver more … Continue reading

Selling tomorrow

In her last post, Jane talked about how an exclusive focus on cost in the reform of public services is to the detriment of the value of those services. Far from delivering ‘value for money’, a blinkered focus on short-term ‘savings’, and consequent loss of value, may ultimately drive up long-term cost. In the last … Continue reading

The Council Catch 22

As the rioters circle parliament in Athens and national strikes bring Italy, Spain and Portugal to a standstill, the same glaring gap exists in Europe as Jane identified in her blog’s recent challenge to the US presidential candidates.  Belt-tightening may well be necessary, but where is the plan for jobs? Commissioning may hold the key. … Continue reading

A new contracting language

Contracts across outsourced public services are generally evaluated on the basis of price and quality. This drives a limited and limiting approach from contractor and procurer. Adopting the language used to evaluate examinations could open up service design, facilitate more informed and holistic contract awarding, and enable ongoing service improvement – subsuming considerations of price … Continue reading