According to the Independent, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell is planning to ask business leaders for help with downsizing government departments and identifying those ever elusive efficiency savings. The government is refusing to say who the private sector bosses are but the Indie puts a number of names in the frame, for example:
Richard Baker, who as chief executive of Boots led a reorganisation of the company that led to over 2,000 job losses.
That’s 2,000 out of the group’s 100,000 or so. Around 2 percent.
Sir Roy Gardner, the former chief executive of Centrica, the company which used to run British Gas and the AA. At Centrica, he oversaw a major restructuring of the business which led to over 1,000 job losses.
That’s just over of 2 percent of the 43,414 that were at Centrica before the cost reduction plan.
I’m not trying to knock these businessmen; both have good track records and left their companies in considerably better states than when they arrived. But the cuts described here are tiny compared to the 25 percent that some public sector organisations will have to lose. As I’ve said before, very few people have cut the size of an organisation to this extent.
By all means, ask experienced private sector managers for help, provided that they don’t charge too much, but don’t assume that they will have the answers. The public sector is capable of chewing up even the most seasoned corporate troubleshooters. It will take more than the wise words of some high-profile business leaders to make the sort of efficiency savings that the government, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, still insists are possible.