A front-line manager in a local authority writes:
I work for [name withheld] Council and I see from some websites that we are supposed to have saved a few millions from DECATS. It’s difficult to say whether this is true or not.
DECATS started around April 2010. We started with “shedloads” of consultants who were around everywhere telling us what we already knew. They stayed around for about 6 months. The people I discuss the process with see the consultants as having destroyed things that worked. Few people understand what they did and the perception appears to be that they could have just presented the findings from the last LA they worked with, as it appears to be “one size fits all” (or we could have just taken a red pen and deleted posts at random). There are still a few gasps about how much it must have cost. How many admin posts could we have kept, and for how many years, if we had not employed [the consultants]?
In my small part of the organisation, my experience is that it has made my work less efficient. I work 18.5 hours a week and part of my job is to keep policies up to date for front line staff. I used to do this with the support of a part time scale 5 admin worker and about 10 hours a week from a scale 3 admin worker. As part of the research for [the consultants] I was asked to quantify how much time I spent on different job tasks – this was recorded by my manager literally on the back of an envelope. When I went to the feedback meeting, the presenter stated that the authority as a whole had about 140 WTE policy officers.
I asked how this had been calculated, because it did not fit with my reality, and did it include people who read policies as part of their jobs. Apparently the analysis was “broad brush” and did not include this level of detail. So, the result has been that all my admin time has gone and I now spend around 70% of my time doing tasks that were previously done by admin workers.
Some of my colleagues report the same thing. The inefficiency of this is hidden.
A scale 3 admin post is now being put back into the structure because our information management is getting so poor. Another issue that may affect efficiency is the loss of goodwill amongst the workforce. A lot of people feel that they, and/or their colleagues, have been treated badly. The changes were done to us, not with us. We all know that we are expendable, which is a dangerous message to make quite so obvious. We are also using agency staff in some areas to replace lost skills.