The following was left in a photocopier in Whitehall sometime next week:
Secretary of State
Ruling Smarter – monarchy that works in challenging times
1. The institution of monarchy has served Britain well for many years. However, in these straitened times, in which the Government’s overwhelming priority must remain the reduction of the unprecedented and damaging deficit bequeathed by New Labour, it is axiomatic that no part of the public sector should be immune from scrutiny.
2. Following your commission the purpose of this paper is to consider options for ensuring that the monarchy should deliver value-for-money for the taxpayer while maintaining and where possible enhancing levels of service. The proposals have been developed by a working group representing a number of Government departments, as monarchy services impact on a wide range of Departmental briefs.
3. A full analysis of the business structure and profile of the monarchy is attached at Annex A. In summary, it is characterised by substantial public subsidy and a business model which is resistant to change. Business practices have not in essence changed since 1952, and are characterised by opaque management structures, a narrow recruitment base and a systematic failure to innovate.
4. In particular, the review team has noted:
Substantial issues in relation to succession planning, in which strict hierarchies fail to adapt to meet changing business needs;
A lack of clarity over its role, in which the business is apt to become inward-looking and resistant to change at times of crisis
A failure to understand, and adapt to, modern business practices, and to focus on delivering high-quality outputs while minimising costs.
Significant issues in stakeholder management, in which public esteem for the CEO no longer offsets public concerns over the performance and cost-effectiveness of her fellow board-members
Operation based around a limited number of geographical locations, including two principal sites in the South East (London and Windsor) which conflicts with the Government’s agenda for localism and raises questions of cost-effectiveness
Case study – the royal wedding
5. You requiested that we examine the management of this major event. The full case study is attached at Annex B.
6. The business case for this event focusses on a number of outcomes. These include the perpetuation of the business through the recruitment of new personnel; benefits in relation to succession planning and securing the future of the business; an opportunity to develop and enhance the undertaking’s public and commercial profile; and to promote wider Government objectives like the Big Society agenda and restoring faith in the institution of marriage.
7. However, we discovered there was a lack of a clear business plan and a systematic failure to employ full PRINCE 2 methodology. As a result costs, invitations and stakeholder communication on issues like dress code were poorly managed and failed to draw on best practise from the private sector. We believe that this strengthens the case for innovative solutions involving partnership between public and private service providers
8. In our view, there is considerable scope for bringing private sector disciplines to the delivery of monarchy. At a time when all public providers are under pressure to deliver more with less, we think there is much scope for an initiative which we have provisionally entitled “Rule Smarter”. Within that umbrella we have developed a number of recommendations to consider how innovative approaches to change could be brought to the delivery of monarchy services. Some proposals are attached at Annex C
9. Our preferred approach centres around a programme of market testing. While we recognise that there would be considerable presentational difficulties in introducing such a programme to the Queen’s core activities, we believe there is a strong case for introducing limited trialled outsourcing to the role of minor Royals, as well as investigating whether there are some non-critical administrative functions across the royal domain e.g. corgi management that could be put to market.
10. In particular, we note that functions such as the opening of day-centres and schools, equestrian functions and some domestic visits would be suitable for offering to competitive tender. Such tenders would not of course exclude existing royals but would ensure that they were obliged to heed market principles, driving down costs and thus bringing efficiency gains for the taxpayer.
11. We note in particular the significant strategic fit between the formal opening of hospitals and the Government’s modernisation of the NHS; while we believe that the level of activity will fall in the medium-term we believe that there is considerable scope for GP commissioning units to manage the procurement of ribbon-cutting, plaque-unveiling etc, perhaps sourcing such activity locally within the context of the Big Society agenda.
12. Foreign visits are of course a matter for the FCO. The sensitivity around such visits suggests they are not appropriate for tendering and should not be included in this trial.
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