Big, big important news from the prime minister’s office late yesterday: apparently the government has managed to cut the amount it spends on communicating with the general public by €6m a year – while at the same time improving the quality of communication.
The state information service press release lists a raft of measures that have been taken. These include the introduction of a government-wide portal for the public information service Postbus 51, a central point for corporate inquiries, ministry-wide recruitment campaigns, the setting up of a ‘campaign management’ unit to coordinate mass media coverage, the development of a style guide etc etc etc.
The end result, the press release says, has not only been cuts in spending but an improvement in service. Whereas before the public could only get hold of civil servants for some 6.5 hours a day (excluding morning meetings, lunch breaks, holidays and extra free days), the Postbus 51 service is now open from 9am to 9pm.
But there are two things the press release failed to mention which might put all this in a better perspective. Firstly, how much was the government spending on it public communications efforts before the efficiency drive began? And secondly, how much did the team of consultants and communications experts who were doubtless brought in to advise on the efficiency drive actually cost?