What happened to accountability & responsibility in the public sector?

employee_diciplined_1600_wht_5635Once upon a time working in the public sector was considered a service to, well the public. Some people considered it an honour (and in due course some senior people received them).

Others saw it as a duty to their fellow citizens; others of course just saw it as a job for life. And it often was.

Pay wasn’t always great but there was that thing called job security and a tidy pension with a lump sum if you stayed the course.

Times change and most people are lucky to have a pension. But people at the very top in the public sector are very well paid having had they pay levels linked (incorrectly in my view) to private sector pay levels.

But what is increasingly common is the sense of infallibility. No matter how badly things go – it’s not their fault. I’m so tired of hearing that “Lessons will be learned”. How long have we been hearing that particular meaningless mantra?

I’ve posted on this before (See Leaders without any shame) and sometimes feel no-one in positions of authority really cares that public are let down, lives lost unnecessarily or young lives blighted.

The most recent case in point is the Oxford grooming gang. Just as in Rochdale and elsewhere, the local authority and the police knew about it for  years but did nothing. In fact a joint police/social services task force wasn’t set up in Oxfordshire until 2011.

Both the Oxfordshire County Council Chief Executive Joanna Simmons and the Thames Valley Chief Constable Sara Thornton have faced calls to resign but neither has yet done so.  Simmons says she’s asked herself some hard questions. Thornton has said “I accept responsibility and, as I’ve said, I am very sorry that it took so long to take this case to court but the focus has got to be on moving forward.”  They’re obviously following the example set by Sir David Nicholson.

For some reason the Prime Minister has rejected calls for a public inquiry into these scandals in children’s homes in Rochdale and Oxford. Where’s the sense of duty, honour, and accountability?