Innovation and enterprise are the themes of this year's Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy conference in Manchester.
The event, 'Raising the bar - building innovative and enterprising public services', will examine issues, pressures and
critically important moment in the political cycle.
The conference, one of the largest events in the public services calendar, will also see CIPFA return to its roots to celebrate 120 years since its inception as the Corporate Treasurers & Accountants Institute at Manchester town hall.
Managing public services is increasingly tough. It requires leaders and managers to deliver smoothly run, integrated services to meet community needs. This means joining up within and between organisations to deliver a seamless service.
These challenges will clearly become more difficult as new money becomes more scarce and the emphasis shifts inexorably towards real efficiency gains. This is where the pressure for innovation and a more enterprising style of management becomes the order of the day.
The conference speakers should provide fascinating insights and contrasting views.
James Strachan, chairman of the Audit Commission, will formally open the conference with the first summit presentation on Wednesday. Tony Benn, writer, diarist and veteran Labour politician will close proceedings. Former BBC director general Lord Birt will present his distinctive views and experience of public service modernisation.
There should be some lively debates. Mark Serwotka, the Public & Commercial Services Union's general secretary, and Barry Quirk, government efficiency champion and chief executive of Lewisham LBC, will grapple with the question: 'Can we deliver significant improvement in public service efficiency?'
Julia Neuberger, Liberal Democrat House of Lords health spokesperson, and Simon Stevens, president of United Health Europe and former No 10 adviser, will address the 'Reforming the NHS' session. Perhaps success of the new government will be judged on this.
That said, 'Regeneration of Cities' cannot be far behind. Here, three chief executives, George Black, David Henshaw and Lin Homer, will contrast the strategies and plans of Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham respectively.
All these discussions need to take place against a broader backdrop. Tony Travers and Geoff Mulgan, another former No 10 guru, will help by looking ahead to '2020 - How might public services be different?' Ben Page of MORI and John Hawksworth of PricewaterhouseCoopers will provide the political and economic context, looking at trends and how they might change. Tony Hegarty of the World Bank and Graham Ward, president at the International Federation of Accountants, will provide the bigger international picture.
Add to this highlights including Sir Alan Langlands on the new 'Goodgovernance standard for public services', Geraldine Peacock, charities commission chair, on 'Charities - the new public sector', workshop sessions, careers advice for students and the newly qualified and a massive exhibition, the event really does offer something for every taste and interest.
Mike Barnes president, CIPFA
The CIPFA conference takes place at Manchester's International Convention Centre and G-MEX from 14-16 June 2005.