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Stop Micro-management by Government by Target Setting and League Tables and Statistical Misuse

Comment 21st July 2010

The Government does not know how to do everything – obviously. However there has been an increasing tendency to micro-manage by setting narrow targets, oblivious to the fact that by so doing, other activities will be impacted. For example, hospital re-admissions have soared as a result of hospitals discharging patients too early. Similar league tables do not reflect overall performance, just one small aspect.

From my experience in education, far too many people in "the system" from the ministerial depatrments, through the local authorities, to the schools and colleges are collecting data – much of this data is already available somewhere but in a different format and on a different system. Once collected, the data is either never used, or badly used by people who do not understand statistics. Did you know that 50% of people are below average? Yes, that's the definition of average!

So scrap targets, scrap pointless data collection, scrap the meddle and muddle.

Why does this matter?

Data collection is taking an increasing amount of time and money out of public services and business – reducing it or making it more efficient is a way of saving money without impact on front line services.

Target setting distorts the way services can operate – appoint professionals and let them do the job. Avoid ministerial muddlement.

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