By Ray Fleming

On Monday morning, in the midst of the Murdoch-BSkyB-Andy Coulson debacle, David Cameron had to go to a conference in the East of London to speak about his White Paper on Open Public Services.

The date had been fixed weeks in advance and people were waiting to hear what he has in mind. it was probably the last thing he had time for but he could not duck out of the commitment. In the event, however, the White Paper seemed to be a disappointment, vague as to what public services can be “opened” and how and lacking any specifics on when consultation might begin and legislation be introduced. The Open Public Services project seems to have much in common with the Big Society -- they're a gleam in Mr Cameron's eye and he understands them but few others do.

Neighbourhoods given power to manage parking or street lighting or parks are mentioned as possible ideas and there is talk of charities taking over some social services but what is lacking is any indication of how the hundreds of thousands of such small projects would be administered and monitored for performance without creating a bigger army of bureaucrats than is currently engaged in actually providing such services. Understandably, Mr Cameron is preoccupied at the moment but on both the Big Society and Open Services he needs to do much better.


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