How much should we pay to transform government?

Received an email today for the latest *special one day conference* on transformational government. The event, sponsored by Price Waterhouse Coopers is ‘designed primarily for senior civil servants and equivalent levels (I’m guessing this means those with a budget) across the public sector.’

So, at a bargain price of £480 senior staff can pay to hear their Ministers and colleagues speak about what they’d like to see their Department doing; listen to examples of how this has been done and also apply professional poker strategies to their work (it’s all about taking risks). This isn’t the first time a conference like this has been promoted to civil servants.

Recognising the fact that conferences cost money to promote and run, there has to be a better way of encouraging participation by civil servants. Budgets across Whitehall are tight – if 40 civil servants were to attend, we miss an opportunity to make the civil service more transparent, open and responsive for citizens – all in the name of the very programme that is supposed to bring about this change.

I don’t begrudge the organisers the opportunity to regain costs or even make a profit, but at the very least they could make it more interesting and inclusive by offering a couple of free tickets through some sort of competition.

After all, competition in Whitehall seems to be all the rage these days.


4 responses to “How much should we pay to transform government?

  1. Absolutely, Justin. Too many of these events are just too damn expensive. As the best events realise, the real value of these things is always in the coffee breaks anyway, and they try and incorporate this into the programme, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be possible to do that an awful lot more cheaply.

  2. And once you’ve been to an unconference, it’s really annoying to go to conferences where you can’t look up the stuff the presenters are talking about in real time, or get up and leave the session when it gets boring 🙂

    What are the chances they’ll project a snarky Twitter backchannel onto the screen behind the presenters? Now I might pay £480 to see *that*.

  3. Only 480 pounds? Our two day social media for government conferences are going for $1500 – $2000! Remember that the buying power of a $ and pound is equivalent. (a soft drink costs you a pound, costs us a dollar)

    At the first MESH conference, there *was* one session where they projected the in-room IRC channel onto a 20 foot screeen over the panelists’ head.

  4. I noticed in the agenda that most of the public speakers are civil servants or ministers. As they are already payed for by the taxpayer, why do other civil servants (also payed for by the taxpayer) need to pay 480 pounds to hear them talk? Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper if government would organise an event like that themselves?

    In the Netherlands it’s actually illegal for civil servants to speak at a conference where other civil servants have to pay for entry.

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