A few observations about the publication today of public sector salaries.
- All 7 'pure' procurement people are MOD or OGC. I am a little surprised not to see one or two other Commercial Directors from big Departments / sectors. The lack of a Health person for instance perhaps says something about how procurement is now positioned in that sector since the demise of PASA? And is it healthy to have this concentration of 'top commercial talent' in two organisations? I don't know.
- There is a big issue I think in terms of the disparity between people who have come into the public sector from the private, versus career civil servants. Take OGC; the 4 people on the list are all ex private sector. Two other Board Directors at OGC including the deputy Chief Exec are career civil servants; they are not on the list. Now perhaps they don't mind - but I can't help thinking that this publication may actually cause some comparability issues in some places (not necessarily OGC I should add).
- Many of our top 'mandarins' are superb value for money. I've met a few Permanent Secretaries and they are at least as impressive as any bunch of CEOs from the private sector. People like David Bell, Leigh Lewis and others are 'worth' (however you define it) every penny of their salary. Again the comparability is a bit weird though; Joe Harley on £245K as CIO of DWP, while his boss, Lewis, is on £195K. Now Harley came from the private sector (and is also very impressive) but you have to admire the restraint of Lewis and others such as Hugh Taylor (Perm Sec in Health) who see their subordinates earning far more than them!
- I do wonder about the political benefit of this to the Coalition. Stirs up public anger and bile without as far as I can see any real benefit. The Daily Mail website has 303 comments on their article, and 90% are negative, often really unpleasantly hostile. Now at the moment, the Coalition can blame the situation on Labour. But in 2, 3, 4 years time? When we see that things haven't changed hugely in terms of salaries (which they probably won't); whose fault will it be then?
- And I do worry about this general vilification of the public sector. Would I go back into a big public sector procurement role and get my name in lights in this way? Not sure I would. Now I might not be a great loss personally, but there must be lots of talented folk out there thinking "not for me". That includes both those not in the sector now, and the bright young people in the civil service. Why would you stay with the prospect of pay constraint and eventual public exposure if you do make it to the top?
- Finally (sorry this has turned into a bit of a rant) the Standard tonight reported
"Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group almost doubled its cheif executive Terry Duddy's pay last year despite an 11% fall in profits. His basic pay and cash bonus package shot up from £858,000 to £1.47 million. He is also in line to collect a further £1.84 million worth of free shares as part of his short and long-term bonus schemes".
Now I'm sure he's a great bloke, working in the dynamic, challenging private sector blah blah blah. But can this be right? Is he 'worth' almost 20 times more than Leigh Lewis at DWP, who manages over 100,000 people, one of the biggest IT systems in the world, and a budget of over £130,000,000,000? (Yes, that is the correct number of zeros!)
Oh yes, and Joe Cole is cross because Chelsea won't pay him £100,000. A week.
I do think we have gone mad sometimes.