PracticeConsultingShout about the positives

Shout about the positives

At the end of last month, I was delighted to see a consultancy story hit the front page of a broadsheet newspaper.

James Bennett

After all, that’s where we want the industry to be, at the forefront of the
public’s attention, transforming wide-ranging sectors into high performing, cost
efficient and in a large majority of cases, profit-making organisations.

Sadly, the piece painted a slightly blurred picture and, according to sources
at Whitehall procurement agency the Office of Government Commerce, the article
‘wrongly informed readers’ by claiming the government had increased spending on
consultants from £1.76bn in 2003/04 to around £2.5bn in 2004/05.

My source at the OGC added that figures had been based on calculations from
the Management Consultancies Association, whose members count for only 65% of
the industry. Tacked onto the end, was a slice of educated guess work assuming
that the other 35% of consultancy firms carried out public sector work.

The actual figure for state spending on private consultants between 2004 to
the year ending April 2005 was nearer £1.8bn, but it was perhaps different for
another reason – the OGC does not actually have a concrete figure for public
spend.

With this in mind, maybe it should think about collating one to aid the
press, government and consultants. Also what last week’s ‘news’ item and others
have failed to mention is the savings consultancy firms make within government
departments and the public sector as a whole.

Even though no figure exists for cost savings, efficiency or just how much of
a positive difference and change consultancies bring to the public sector,
surely it outweighs the actual spend?

Think about the projects out there. The NHS’s Connecting for Health and the
national programme for IT, which are revolutionising the health service, plus
all the measures and transformation and change programmes being carried out in
line with the Gershon Review.

Instead of keeping the positives under wraps, perhaps the government and the
firms should shout a great deal louder about the great work that is and will be
done in the future.

James Bennett is the editor of Management Consultancy

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