The recent comments made by Tory MP Greg Hands surrounding the new NHS 60th anniversary logo, which cost £12,000 to create, has resulted in uproar in the design industry and has raised issues within the public sector (PS).
The original comments by Hands, were originally published by the Times on the 26th December 2009 (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6968036.ece)
I understand the design industries reaction to the comments made by Hands, his comment of;
“Modern graphic design [software] packages surely allow anyone with an average brain to design something as good as, or better than, what we see in front of us here”
first made steam blow out of my ears, but looking at the new NHS logo you can understand why someone of little design experience would think this. If you only look at the finished product of the NHS logo you might also question the high cost for this project. However, if you have ever worked with the public sector you might know of the tedious processes and meetings you have to go through to get a contract started, never mind completed.
Many companies say that when they take on public sector work there is rarely a clear proposal that provides a good understanding of what is required. This is followed by endless drawn out meetings where design ideas are pondered over by people with no relevant qualifications or experience who only know what they don’t like and invariably throw out the best ideas.
I believe the main problem is the projected processes the public sector is chained to which only makes it possible for large companies, that are geared up to cope with the bureaucratic process, to compete for PS contracts.
Greg Hands says; ‘Surely adding two digits doesn’t need to be outsourced at all. Civil servants can do this themselves.’ On the face of it £12,000 for what seems to be a poorly executed logo does seem excessive but what we don’t know is the journey the agency was put through to get to the point of the final design. It could well be that £12,000 doesn’t adequately compensate them for the time and commitment made? We don’t know.
What we do know is that if the Public Sector cleaned up and simplified the processes it uses to award and manage these outsource projects it would bring the agencies costs down. That in its self would make way for a larger variety of providers to have a chance to compete for PS contracts and this could bring considerable benefits.