EY commits to measure, create and evaluate public value when we work with our public sector clients.
Since taking up my new role in June as EY UK&I Government and Infrastructure Managing Partner, I’ve been busy reconnecting with clients to hear how these extraordinary times are impacting them. In all, from major national government departments to smaller local authorities and the companies who serve them, it amounts to about 100 conversations. The message that came out loud and clear was that disruptive forces such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit and climate change mean that there will be no return to the status quo.
This is strikingly apparent in Michael Gove’s June 2020 Ditchley Park lecture on The privilege of public service (transcript). The Civil Service, like the society it serves, will be transfigured. This will touch both the technocratic means (“The Treasury in the UK has been, historically, very good at questioning the cost of projects, but not their broader social value.”) and the political ends (“politicians like me must take responsibility for the effect of their actions and the consequences of their announcements”).
A new era for public services
Whatever the source, it’s crystal clear that the current economic, social and political environment is creating new pressures on public services and those who deliver them. I see three forces at work here:
- The citizen agenda – a focus on how policy and practice can improve the life of what politicians refer to as the ‘forgotten citizen’
- The need to more fully evaluate all the outcomes of public projects, rather than just counting their cost
- The power of digital technology to design and deliver public services in different and better ways
While these forces create challenges, for those people and organisations who can transition successfully, there will also be opportunities.
Creating public value
So, what are EY doing to help? As an organisation with 17,000 professionals in the UK, and 290,000 across the globe, we have a great convening power to identify and share good practice and innovation, across both private and public sector. Whether it be working to help keep people safe, helping councils to reduce homelessness, or supporting the national effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, I think we can reasonably claim not only that we are fulfilling our purpose of Building a better working world but are also playing a small part in building a better Britain.
Central to this, I believe, is the idea of public value. Essentially, it refers to the wider contribution to society that a project or programme makes. It encompasses the detailed picture, not just of economic benefit, but human, societal and environmental benefit too.
Government has recently put this front and centre by making this kind of value creation a mandatory part of the assessment of central government tenders. And EY private sector clients increasingly recognise that a focus on public value – for example through considering the interests of all their stakeholders, rather than just their shareholders – makes sound business sense.
This holistic approach to value is an area where EY professionals lead the field, through tools like our long-term value framework, which measures a company’s ability to generate value for all stakeholders.
In short, creating public value is not a new concept but a new commitment – and one we are well equipped to deliver.
So, from now on, all EY’s public sector engagements will be viewed through the lens of public value.
A charter for change
What does that mean in practice? From now on, all EY’s work in government will follow principles set out in our new Public Value Charter, which we will be publishing shortly. This charter commits EY to action across five themes which our government clients have told us they particularly care about:
People – we will leave your people better able to deliver public value, strengthened through skills and knowledge transfer.
Carbon – we will identify, evaluate and capture opportunities to help EY clients reduce carbon use.
Digital – we will offer practical and impartial advice on how digital capabilities can unlock further benefits.
Value – we will continuously look for ways to improve value for money, alongside broader measures of public value.
Trust – we understand the value of trust so will only promise what we can deliver and work with the long term in mind.
By following this Public Value charter, we will hold ourselves to account for helping EY clients measure, create and evaluate public value every time we work together.