Saturday, September 06, 2008

The costs of standardisation and uniformity

I am part way through my next post in the current series, but I could not resist a brief comment on two radio stories today. The first dealt with the proposals for regulation, standards and uniformity in the not-for-profit sector. The second, the problems associated with the creation of a child care centre in a small rural community because the costs of standardisation and compliance spread across a small customer base made the centre uneconomic.

I first came across the costs of uniform standards when I was researching the history of education in NSW.

In the early part of the twentieth century, reforms to the technical education system had the effect of shutting down large slabs of NSW country technical education because it lacked the base to comply with the regulations. From that point, trades people trained elsewhere had to be paid to come to country regions. The economic and social costs were quite profound.

I know of no solution to this problem. Once we create the burden, we then have to pay to create services at the now defined standard in areas that can no longer afford the service. No Government is prepared to or can afford the subsidies involved to support uniform services at the mandated standard, so services decline or disappear. Yet we continue with the approach.

I haven't written about the change in the NSW leadership because I do not expect it to make a damn bit of difference to the areas that I am most interested in. There will just be more of the same.

No comments: