Thursday, 10 July 2008

Fancy becoming an operational delivery operative

There is one thing I love about the UK civil service; it is the numbers. They count everything from banana prices in Birmingham to mortgage approvals. Without the bean counters, this blog simply could not exist.

Today, the ONS produced another great set of numbers - the civil service headcount. As of September 30th 2007, there were 488,930 on the payroll. In a population of almost 60 million, the number doesn't sound too excessive. However, that number does not include the huge army of social workers, teachers and nurses who count as public sector employees rather than civil servants.

Apart from the total headcount, there were other fascinating statistics. For example, did you know that the civil service has more managers than managed? Here are the numbers:

This must be a case of title inflation. Just like in Goldman Sachs, where every second employee is a vice president, half the civil service is "managing" the other half. The civil service is definitely the place for me, but do you think they will have me?

The ONS also breaks the employment numbers down according to profession. Almost 251 thousand civil servants are described as "operational delivery". You know what; I have always wanted to be an operational delivery manager, who supervises at least one operational delivery operative.

There was one really shocking number. The ONS described the profession of 132 thousand civil servants as "non-response". Presumably, this is a euphemism for not knowing what these civil servants actually do. Alternatively, half this number could be employed as non-response managers, who supervises the other half, who work as non-response operatives.

12 comments:

simon said...

"did you know that the civil service has more managers than managed?"

Yep, it is one giant Kafkaesque nightmare.


"The ONS described the profession of 132 thousand civil servants as "non-reponse". Presumably, this is a euphemism for not knowing what these civil servants actually do."

They keep the unemployment figures down.

Anonymous said...

The civil service is definitely the place for me, but do you think they will have me?

Only if you are prepared to abide by the Official Secrets Act so that people will never know what you do. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think you capture the ludicrous nature of the topic.

And to think I lose nearly half of my income to pay for things like this.

Nick

Mark Wadsworth said...

Does 'non-response' mean that they didn't respond to the simple question "What do you actually do at work?"

The core civil service figure is misleading, the enormity of this is better illustrated by Columns L-N on Table 5(2), page 22 of this.

8 million workers in 'Education, health and public admin'.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, Alice, as usual.

Do we know haw many people work for 'Quango's? Presumably they are not in the Civil Service figures. I wonder how many managers versus people who do work there are in the 'Potato Council' for example...

Did you know a new element has been discovered in the Civil Service and other areas of UK public employment?

It's called Administratium, and has very peculiar properties: it has an absolutely enormous nucleus, consisting of one neutron, twenty four vice-neutrons, and six hundred and forty six assistant vice neutrons.

But, despite having the heaviest nucleus of all elements, it is totally inert...

...and rather than having a decay half-life, like other elements with massive nuclei, every three years it just reorganises itself and gets bigger...

B. in C.

Anonymous said...

On mine above, the credit goes to William DeBuvitz

http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/administ.htm

B. in C.

Alice Cook said...

B. in C.

So many questions, but so few answers.

Thanks for the kind words, and please keep posting your comments.

alice

Anonymous said...

...or how about one wag's development:

"In fact, Administratium's mass will actually increase over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons forming new isotopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Administratium is spontaneously formed whenever moron concentration reaches a certain level. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the Critical Morass."

author unknown to me at:

http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~pjbk/humour/administratium.html

I think this element is also known as 'Govermentium'

B. in C.

Anonymous said...

"The nuclear particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons. It is also surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes into contact with."

etc. etc.

B. in C.

electro-kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
electro-kevin said...

Some times I think I'm the only productive person I know - but if they got rid of Operational Delivery Managers who on Earth would I be taking to work in my train ?

Anonymous said...

B and C

David Craig's book "Squandered" has a whole chapter on the cost of quangos and the number of people they employ. I don't have my copy to hand but a quick trip to WHSmith's should give you your answer.

Nick