As Gordon Brown launches the fifth Comprehensive Spending Review since New Labour came to power in 1997, we might ask ourselves why all the debate about priorities and policies has remained firmly under wraps in the Whitehall village. It was, after all, Brown himself who announced that the Comprehensive Spending Review would be carried out through "national debate" rather than the secretive process which has come to decide our national priorities.
In this, the first 'alternative' spending review to be published through the Herbert Simon Institute at the University of Manchester, the editors aim to draw back the veil of secrecy and let the real debate on the long-term trends and challenges that will shape the next decade begin.
Identifying the reforms and investments needed to meet long-term challenges across government departments, a team of distinguished academics examine the spending issues and constraints facing public services, the policy and delivery challenges across government and look at how public spending reforms have fared so far. A vital source for those wishing to make the spending review process more open, the Alternative Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 is essential reading for anyone interested in public administration and public policy. -- .
Colin Talbot is co-director of the Centre for Public Policy and Management and the director of the Herbert Simon Institute at Manchester Business School. Matt Baker is Editorial Executive in the Herbert Simon Institute at Manchester Business School -- .