Should civil servants publish their timesheets online?

7 01 2010

Given the civil service are paid for by the taxpayer, is it unreasonable that they should have to account for how they spend their time?

There arguments in favour of this radical proposal are strong. If timesheets were published anonymously by depatment, members of the public (and the politicians who represent them) would be able to judge for themselves whether their money was being well spent, and whether civil servants were spending their time productively.

The problems:

1. Some aspects of civil servants work is necessarily secret (foreign office, military), and there would be an unacceptable risk to the personal security of the public.

2. Commercial aspects of civil service procurement rely on sealed bids, private consultation, and other practices that would result in less value for money for the taxpayer if they were displayed openly.

3. A culture of witch-hunting would emerge and civil service morale would sink lower than it is already, rendering the service even less efficient.

The responses:

1. Obviously some areas of government work should remain absolutely secret, but this does not mean that all government employees have a presumed right to privacy from their employers (the public). Public records should not be made available.

2. Again, these practices should remain, but civil servants should be held accountable for their commercial decisions, just as any procurement officer in the private sector would. Government contracts should not be a ‘soft option’, available only to large, conservative businesses. Opening-up the procedures of procurement would provide numerous opportunities for innovative businesses to enter the currently restricted marketplace.

3. The publishing of timesheets and opening-up of working practices would punish the bad, but also recognise the good work done by many employees of the civil service. It is absurd that 1 in 5 members of the UK working population cannot receive open credit for their hard work. The public should be able to judge which departments, and even which specific managers, are managing their resources effectively and performing to the highest standards.

Let us know your thoughts.

Ali Unwin

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7 01 2010
Tweets that mention Should civil servants publish their timesheets online? « The Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dominiccampbell, topsy_top20k and PostBureaucratic Age, topsy_top20k_en. topsy_top20k_en said: New blogpost: Should civil servants have to post their timesheets online? http://bit.ly/6YLZvF […]

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