Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

A Word from the President: 'Cost-Cutting Alone Is Not the Answer. There Must Also Be a Long-Term Vision'

Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

A Word from the President: 'Cost-Cutting Alone Is Not the Answer. There Must Also Be a Long-Term Vision'

Article excerpt

As both a geographer and a management accountant, I've been highly supportive of the institute's recent research into how financial managers can help to develop the cities of the future. More and more mega-cities are becoming the economic equivalent of small nations --and managing the expectations of all their stakeholders is a massive challenge.

I am delighted that the resulting report takes a pioneering step in outlining public-sector strategies that will prove financially robust and sustainable. The demands on the leaders of metropolitan and regional governments are huge. Costs must not only be managed; new infrastructures must also be created in an environmentally responsible way. All the while, pressure is building on leaders to strengthen relationships with outside providers, improve stakeholder communication and address the needs of local businesses. It's not an easy job.

The CGMA research report, entitled "Transformation and transparency: managing local government performance", is based on an analysis of current and future practices among local authorities in 48 countries. It reflects the views of more than 1,000 finance professionals and leaders in the public sector, plus those of private-sector CEOs. The researchers found that, in order to improve efficiency and deliver better outcomes, a change of approach is needed that will affect operating models, technologies, processes and service delivery methods. It has always been true that best practice in local government focuses on efficiency, but cost-cutting alone is not the answer. There must also be a long-term vision that takes in the whole landscape of local government. To achieve this, the paper argues that "four Ts" must be addressed: transformation, technology, transparency and talent. In other words, governments must drive the transformation of public services, using the right supporting technology and satisfying the growing public demand for transparency. …

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