In a damning indictment of the skills of Whitehall administrators, right-wing thinktank Reform says almost all of them could be replaced with AI chatbots.
Reform, which describes itself as "An independent, non-party, charitable think tank whose mission is to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity," released a report this morning analysing the current state of the public sector workforce and outlining its recommendations for improvement. Called 'Work in progress. Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce,' the report has some harsh words for the current setup, calling it "a legacy of past approaches":
It is built around siloed attitudes of yesterday’s governments and fails to embrace technology and new ways of working to meet users’ needs in the most effective ways. A traditionalist mentality fails to cultivate a culture of change: mistakes are covered up, risk-aversion is rife and leaders have not built the workforce around the needs of users. That there is one receptionist for every GP should be alarming in a world in which online banking is the norm.
There's one receptionist for every GP?! Then why do they never answer the phone?
The report goes on to recommend that:
Public services should deliver outcomes that matter to users, and meet expectations of interacting via technology. This approach would see services designed around users and render at least 248,860 administrative roles redundant. The accuracy of decision making can be further improved by using artificial intelligence to make healthcare decisions and by understanding why mistakes that, for example, cause 10 per cent of hospital patients to suffer from medical error, are made.
Somewhat sadly, it also says that the public sector should be looking to the so-called "gig economy" for a better way of working. The Guardian reports that the accompanying press release contains the inflammatory line "Public services can become the next Uber, using the gig economy to employ locum doctors and supply teachers." Personally, I'd rather my surgeon didn't ask for the postcode to my kidneys. [Reform via The Guardian]
Deeply alarming main image: Pixabay