A survey of AICPA & CIMA members working in both the public and private sectors has revealed a significant gap when it comes to measuring and enhancing the productivity of the organisations they serve.

Accounting and finance professionals in the private sector are much more likely to be measuring productivity than those in the public sector. 

The key findings were:

  • 53% of respondents working in the public sector said their organisation does not track productivity. The private sector figure was 26%.
  • Investment in people and skills is as important as investment in technology for improving productivity.
  • In the private sector, management accountants play key role in tracking productivity and helping to devise ways to improve it.

AICPA & CIMA chief executive for management accounting, Andrew Harding, said: “Improving productivity requires motivated people, working towards a common purpose, with clear goals and priorities using identifiable measurements to track output and outcomes. Sadly, the standout conclusion from our latest productivity report highlights that more than 50% of the public sector respondents in our survey said their organisations were failing to do that. This fuels doubts about the long-term sustainability of our public service provision and value being delivered to taxpayers.

“Implementing better measurement and tracking of outcomes, both quantitative and qualitative, would help drive more effective decision making, resource allocation and performance. These are critical elements as public services are being financially squeezed whilst more being asked of them.”

Survey respondents who work in the private sector highlighted the importance of maintaining the skill levels within their organisation, along with the deployment of appropriate technology as a top driver of productivity. Respondents in the public sector also recognised the role that talent, skills and training, alongside investment in technology, play in driving productivity.

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The public sector is growing as a proportion the UK economy. The latest employment figures by the Office of National Statistics estimated that 5.87 million people worked in the public sector in June 2023, which was 2.3% more than at the same point the previous year. The private sector employed 27.01 million people, so the public sector accounted for 17.9% of total employment in the UK.