Money Saving

Filed under: ideas that I’d like to explore more… but that someone else is probably better placed to take forward (with a bit of political commentary thrown in too at the end).

I’ve been dealing with quite a few local authority finance departments over the last few weeks as bookings have been coming in for the Connected Generation conference. And I’ve been somewhat startled by how much time and effort it takes for a local authority to make a simple payment for a member of staff to attend an event being run at cost.

Some of the finance systems and processes clearly have room of significant small savings to be made on every transaction – by switching to electronic communication and BACs rather than cheque for example. However, I suspect some of the other cumbersome processes I’ve come across are the result of past attempts at efficiency savings. And in some cases, there are good reasons (audit purposes etc.) for extra steps involved in the local authority process – albeit that those extra steps need not be quite as convoluted as many appear to be.

All of which got me thinking: there exists the potential for many small savings across government. But just cutting costs from on high is often counter productive – in many cases failing to create real reductions in spending, but also in many cases, leading to unintended consequences down the line.

So where is the online resource allowing government staff to share the tips and tricks they have used to reduce costs? And sharing learning about unintended consequences of certain cost-cutting approaches?

In response to a Tweet yesterday which shared this pondering, @lmbowler suggested that might be a ‘’. Perhaps. Although personally I’m more for ‘’. I know we’re heading into a period of cuts, but I don’t need government to put money back in my pocket – I want government to be addressing social injustices and inequalities – making sure that it’s making the most of our funds: not wasting money, or taking on roles that people can now take on themselves through digitally mediated collective action, but investing in the (many) places where we still need government to be building the foundations of a more equal and happier society.

3 thoughts on “Money Saving”

  1. Hey Tim

    Great idea – but we’re kind of talking “how can government get better at procurement” here, aren’t we?

    I’m not saying that it’s a problem that can’t be fixed – but I would imagine that even making small changes of the type you mention would mean unpicking layers of strategy and process… which may well be beyond a couple of inventive procurement officers.

    Maybe I’m being a bit negative. Sorry if I am!

  2. Not negative Mr Briggs; rightly skeptical.

    The particularly example I gave probably does involve unpicking all sorts of layers – but also involves some work-arounds and hacks to make systems more streamline.

    I think what I’m trying to get at is that unpicking some of these things from the bottom up may, in some cases, be preferable to blowing them open from the top – and then letting the pieces fall back again in some slightly more (or less) optimal jumble…

    And somewhere some sort of knowledge sharing between people doing the jobs might be useful there…

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