Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The audit society ...

It's the midway point in the external review of the institute. Whilst a group of institute staff are being interviewed I've been working on another external review document for a different agency. In fact, because we are entirely self-funded the institute is constantly under review. Our applications for funding are assessed and scored. Once we have the funding we are monitored with respect to spend and outputs. For our largest current grant we presently have to fill in daily timesheets, have a three-monthly financial audit, and a six-monthly output report. Half my life is filling out monitoring reports of one kind of another. We're the embodiment of the so-called audit society where everything is monitored to ensure that it meets pre-set criteria that are supposed to measure quality and productivity. All I know is that my productivity has shrunk in direct proportion to added layers of bureaucracy and the quality is the same as it ever was, but I can now ‘prove’ it through a whole series of KPIs – key performance indicators. We could prove it regardless, of course - we’re an institute that uses social statistics! ‘The audit society’ … it should be called ‘the needlessly bureaucratic and creative accountancy society’. And people want to know why public sector bodies are full of middle management pushing bits of paper and not enough front line workers …

2 comments:

Bernadette in Australia said...

I hear your pain Rob - the health sector would seem to share much with the academic one from what you say - ours seems to have little to do with healing the sick and much more to do with the moving of imaginary money from one bucket to another and measuring things that no one much cares about

Rob Kitchin said...

Well, Bernadette, I would like to think that we do educate and conduct good research, and the money is certainly real in that it pays our salaries, and we do care about what is being measured, but then we're on the front-line. It's how the measurement regimes are structured and how they work to produce a particular kind of work environment and delivery, and the overbearing bureaucracy that detracts from and hinders delivery that's the issue, I think.