Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Budget Cutting: Cutting off your nose to spite your face

         Harping against the Harperites. Well, they are at it again, it seems. Breaking campaign promises. What is it this time?

          "Responsable government" - like they do what they say and what they do is relatively clean, honest, efficient, comptetent. Those are nice guide lines for responsable government.

            Does the current Conservative government in Ottawa live up to this definition?
             There is reason to believe the answer to this question is "no". A recent article from Canadians for Accountability points to a number of glaring inconsistencies in the Feds recent proposals to "reduce fat" in the bureaucracy.

               They propose paying a private accounting firm $20 million ($90,000 per day or the salary of about 45 people) to save money. On the surface it makes "sense", appealing to kneejerk populist anti-government sentiments. But, the author argues, does it really make sense, in either a financial, managerial or moral sense?

                 Firstly, private firms like Deloitte and Touche are, in reality, likely to be less responsible than the corps of professional bureaucrats who will have to live with the consequences of their policy choices. Outside "privateers" are more like to play the tune they know their clients expect and want to hear. They are therefore less likely to be objective and efficiency oriented than a duly delegated working group of  bureaucrats would be. 

"So why this expensive exercise? The most likely answer is the desire to give a veneer of validity, independence and authority to the findings... The government wants to be able to say, “Look, we don’t want to cut all these jobs. We don’t want to axe these programs. But the report says we have to."

                    In other words, "you gets what you pays for". Attempting to slough off what are essentially governmental functions on the private sector does not necessarily result in "efficiency", "savings", "performance" and the rest. Such decisions these days are - let's be honest - ideologically driven, not performance driven. We are being sold a used clunker with false papers that's been in a bad accident. Would you buy a used car from this man..

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