Govt compares unfavourably to private sector say MPs

By Liz Stephens

MPs have demanded a seismic culture shift across the public sector.

The public accounts committee said today government departments should be compared with private sector organisations to provide a more accurate picture of competence.

Its report found the public sector has “a poor understanding” of what taxpayers want.

Staff management, incentives to reflect success and sanctions to tackle failure needed to be “greatly strengthened”, the committee warned.

It also said that senior civil servants heading poorly performing government departments seem “proof against dismissal” and may not have survived in a similar role of responsibility in the private sector, or local government.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said: “Where departments differ conspicuously from many private sector organisations is in having a much poorer understanding of what their customers want.

“Without a culture than focuses consistently on the needs of the user, improvements to performance in delivering services will simply not happen.”

The second bi-annual capability review carried out by the Cabinet Office did show improvements, the committee said, but found “there is a long way to go”.

It called for wider and more objective ways of measuring success and criticised the review for not considering working relations between ministers and civil servants.

The committee’s report comes as all the major political parties are looking for ways to save money on public services to reduce the UK’s estimated £175 billion deficit this year.