administrative reform


bids, public services and short stories

Posted by publicadminreform on June 30, 2011 at 7:22 AM

I'm blogging here because there seems a technical problem with my normal site - and I hate to disappoint my readers - who I hope have the gumption to try here after they notice the abnormal gap in posting. I'v e been working for thr last week or so on a bid for a project. I hate this stage when one is trying to construct a convincing statement about HOW one would carry out the various required activities of a project. I don’t find writing difficult – I’ve had long practice and the results are there to see on the website and blog.

But two aspects about writing proposals I fiind deeply frustrating and indeed alienating. First that one is generally writing in ignorance of the actual context – and actually prevented (by procurement rules) from actually talking with those for who one would be working. This not only breaches basic rules of consultancy – but creates a distance I can’t cope with. I’m a touchy, feely guy (in some sense) and can only operate in a hands-on situation when I’m getting responses. The second reason I find this stage difficult is that one is supposed to restrict oneself to the HOW statements – not the WHAT. And I always want to jump to the content – not least to convince the evaluator that they woudl get a good deal if they went with my bid. But, as the content of bids have equal status with the original terms of reference, companies are reluctant to commit themselves to substantial things – and prefer to throw back in different language what the terms of reference are saying. And this is an EU Structural Fund project – whose administrative and financial requirements are so tough (for generally local companies) that it is not difficult to disqualify companies before their methodoligies even reach the evaluation stage! What a game!

So I’m just taking short break (hopefully getting the creative juices working on something more salubrious) – and have a few useful references to make. Amongst all the mythogising of Greece and Greeks that is going on, a rare bit of commonsense. This blog has looked at the various statistics to explore whether the Greeks are in fact as lazy as is being asserted (retirement ages, pension, working days etc ) and finds them untrue. However what is true is that they don’t declare incomes and avoid taxation. And, of course, this is not merely true of Greece – I’ve made the same point about Romania

Yesterday the Scottish Government released an independent report they had commissioned from an interesting collection of people last year on the future of public services in the new tough world . What was impressive was that asked a retired trade unionist to chair it – and did not pack it with their own people. And the report – despite some unpalatable messages – has been positively received in most quarters. So at least the Scottish tradition lives on – unlike the tribal politics of England.

Time for a song - a stirring Spanish political song from the old guard

And Simon Jenkins has rediscovered the virtues of the classic civil service.

I’m becoming a fan of the short story art form. William Trevor, Carol Shields, Vladimir Nabakov always hold me in thrall. Hanif Kureishi is an impressive novellist whose acquaintance I am only now making – with his Collected Stories.

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