On the money: public sector management techniques

That, in appearance at least, is the guiding principle by which successive
governments have managed Whitehall reform.

It is, of course, dogmatic codswallop. The notion that everything in the
private sector runs smoothly, and that the public sector machine is all but
collapsed, is a false one.

But this month may mark a turning point in changing that perception.
Ministers aren’t about to change their style anytime soon – not when Home Office
mismanagement is hogging the headlines. Though he won’t thank me for saying so,
responsibility for changing that mindset may fall to one Jim Gee.

You may not have heard of Gee, but he is an all-too-rare beast – a public
sector animal who may end up telling private companies how to put their cages in

I first came across him when he was at the London Borough of Islington in the
early 1990s. He moved to Haringey, but it was at Lambeth where he really made
his mark. During Gee’s tenure, losses from fraud were cut by £30m a year.

Now, after almost a decade as the NHS’s fraudbuster in chief, where the work
of his team benefited the Exchequer to the tune of almost £300m, Gee is joining
KPMG, where he will be tasked with applying public sector lessons to private
companies. I can’t think of a similar example, but with reported business fraud
in the UK rising 40% to £1.37bn in 2006, it’s a smart move .

Let’s hope he makes inroads. Maybe then we’ll see the fraud bill fall – and
have a more sensible debate about what management techniques really work, not
where they have come from.

Damian Wild is editor in chief of Accountancy Age

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