Panel discussions with experts on the challenges for the public sector.
On January, 19, 2016, KPMG organized the third Café Public. After the two prior sessions dealing with digital administration and integrity management, this third session drilled down into the challenges of current-day cost management in the public sector.
To introduce this session, Professor Xavier Gabriëls, Partner at KPMG Advisory, gave an overview of both the main policy challenges for the government in 2016 and the way cost management might be the answer to such challenges. Following his introduction, Jan Nijhuis and Suzanne Kleijn were invited to shed light on how they implement strategic cost management within the Dutch tax authority. And, in conclusion, Ben Smeets, General Director for Organization and Development with the FPS Personnel and Organization, and Werner Jacobs, CFO for the Flemish transport company De Lijn, as well as Mr. Gabriëls and Mr. Nijhuis, were asked to set out their opinion with regards to a number of relevant propositions made during the panel debate.
In the current political context, the government is challenged to increase significantly the efficiency of governmental services and to improve continuously the services offered to citizens and businesses. ‘Do more with less’ is a fitting slogan to describe the goal of forming a policy that utilizes available financial, material and personal means most effectively in order to meet one’s goals. Doing more with less is not about the government’s earnings, but rather about the conscious budgetary allocation that would be reserved for carrying out policy choices.
This awareness is obtained, however, only when policymakers have an accurate insight into what a policy costs. And so, more than ever, there is the question of how much policy changes cost – including the anti-terrorism, refugee and residential renovation policies, digitalization of governmental administration, absenteeism within the administration and more. Without the correct information on the cost of a policy’s objective, informed choices cannot be made.
During the panel debate, the panelists and the audience were asked whether correct information and analytical tools were available in order to measure and/or achieve cost savings. Approximately half of the audience said that this was not the case. In the panel, Mr. Smeets acknowledged that a lot of information is available, but that this is often not sufficiently analyzed to coordinate policy decisions.