From Mr Peter Bareau.

Sir, Civil servants are generally competent and conscientious, but like most people they do what the system expects them to do (“Levene and Green to find Whitehall cuts”, August 13).

Getting more efficiency and value from public spending requires in the first place changing objectives and incentives. Private sector insights can be helpful, but they will not create lasting change if the way that government departments’ and civil servants’ performance is managed emphasises compliance – with budgets, targets and box-ticking – rather than continuously optimising value.

People say the hard part is not identifying specific savings and efficiencies, it is getting them delivered. Actually, the hard part is identifying value and designing public sector organisations to promote it all the time, as do private sector organisations. That is the most fundamental thing that is missing.

Resolve that and the evidence is that a huge amount of additional value will be continuously created by people and organisations we now seem to believe are not capable of it.

Peter Bareau,

Godalming, Surrey, UK

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