Failure to Deliver is the Result of Failure in Administration

The pandemic has highlighted a problem which has been around for some time, but has been placed into sharp relief by the events of 2020. This problem is a shortfall in the administrative disciplines required for the delivery of challenging government initiatives. This is the result of a civil service that has lost the ability to align political ambition with its administrative capacity and capability. There are other reasons for this problem including:

‚- Failure to identify solutions that are known to work and can be delivered

‚- Lack of clear description of the policy objectives sought; or subsequent changes to the policy objectives during implementation

‚- Unrealistic timescales

‚- Insufficient budget

‚- Poor planning in the set-up stages required to ensure speedy take-off

‚- Insufficient staff, or staff with the right skills, to implement a policy change

‚- Failure to address other resource requirements for implementation such as buildings and IT in a timely manner

‚- Non-compliance with best practice in project management as opposed to token adherence

Whilst it is relatively straightforward to identify these causes, embedding solutions is more challenging as this requires a commitment to administrative disciplines which it is often easier to avoid. A solution is required, which means this cannot be the case in practice. Over the past 20 years or so, emphasis has been placed on leadership and management skills, but insufficient attention has been paid to ensuring that the administrative arrangements and capacity are in place to support political and managerial leadership. Administration has become an undervalued process and is seen as less dynamic than leadership and management. The opposite should be the case, good administration is key to successful delivery of new initiatives, as well as the delivery of existing programmes and services.




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