School of Management

The Centre for Public Services Organisations

2009 CPSO Annual Lecture

"The Performance of Public Services: How Much Does the Public Really Want to Know?"

David WalkerThis lecture was delivered by David Walker, Managing Director of Communications and Public reporting at the Audit Commission, an independent watchdog on the efficiency of local public services. He was the editor of Public, the Guardian’s monthly magazine for senior public managers and a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Analysis programme. David now chairs the communications and information committee of ESRC and is a trustee of the Nuffield Trust.


The lecture addresses the "cognitiive overload" implicit in many theories of democracy, especially those underpinning the empowerment ideas that have become fashionable in recent years. Why are our models of public understanding so primitive, conceptually and empirically? We know very little about how people access and use "civic" information yet erect large schemes of democratic regeneration and public service improvement on the back of them. the new "comprehensive performance assessment" regime being introduced by the Audit Commission in April 2009 will be explored as a case study. The conclusion will veer towards the need for segmentation of messages and audiences, accepting that could imply an elitist model for information.

» Video: The Performance of Public Services lecture Windows Media Player

Time and Location

Date: 18th March 2009

Time: 6pm

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre, Founder's Building, Royal Holloway, University of London

The lecture will be followed by a reception in the Picture Gallery.

For more information: please contact Mrs Marta Baker, Events Manager,

» Lecture invitation PDF
» All annual lectures