A more effective Whitehall

Civil servants, ministers, the centre and departments

Equality control? Some final data from the recent reshuffle

, 23 July 2014

With David Cameron’s reshuffle now apparently complete, Gavin Freeguard and Caragh Nimmo update the graphs from the Whitehall Monitor live-blog one last time

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A CEO for the Civil Service: what could it mean?

, 22 July 2014

Sir Jeremy Heywood made clear to Parliament last week that the Prime Minister has decided that he wants a "chief executive of the civil service". So what might the Prime Minister mean by this?

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An objective view: Permanent Secretary Objectives, 2014-15

, 22 July 2014

Last week, the Cabinet Office published performance objectives for 2014-15 for permanent secretaries, the Cabinet Secretary and the Head of the Civil Service in a new format. This is our latest Whitehall Monitor analysis.

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No “messing” with the centre?

, 18 July 2014

Last week the four central permanent secretaries – Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, head of the Home Civil Service Bob Kerslake, Treasury Permanent Secretary Nick Macpherson and Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton were all before the PAC answering questions about the role of the centre. Sir Jeremy’s testimony was particularly enlightening. He said that...

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Wish you were here? Tales from New Zealand’s journey of civil service reform

, 14 July 2014

Much of the language used and aspirations conveyed by Mr Rennie sounded familiar to followers of the UK’s civil service reform agenda. However, Mr Rennie’s presentation (and the response by Mark Lowcock, permanent secretary at the Department for International Development, and head of a working group on accountability arrangements in Whitehall), also illustrated some...

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Clarifying accountability – the latest objectives for permanent secretaries

, 11 July 2014

The objectives for permanent secretaries for 2014-15 form the basis for their performance management. The objectives will be used by the Cabinet Secretary or the Head of the Civil Service – the permanent secretaries are managed between them – for annual appraisal discussions and pay awards. The Institute was highly critical when the last...

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Guest blog: A response to Martin Donnelly’s speech on the Civil Service

, 10 July 2014

Martin Donnelly is to be commended for arguing for the policy role of a permanent civil service in such cogent and skilful terms in his IFG speech. The more recent, unrelated row over a job description for permanent secretaries, with its perhaps clumsy attempt to describe a stewardship role, shows this can be dangerous...

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Guest blog: What’s wrong with the Treasury? A reply to Emran Mian

, 9 July 2014

The Treasury is portrayed as the villain behind all the constraints on departments. I also agree with Emran about how important it remains to protect the Treasury’s position against overwhelming odds (there are more spending department votes across the Cabinet table than Treasury ones), and the importance of continuity. However, that doesn’t mean there...

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The roles of ministers and permanent secretaries should be complementary not conflicting

, 8 July 2014

Secretaries of state and permanent secretaries have different roles, which should be complementary, and not in conflict. That is why the latest row over a leaked five year old paper on ‘Permanent Secretary’ roles is so artificial, exaggerated and a distraction from the real issues of civil service reform.

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Guest blog: A response to Martin Donnelly’s speech on the Civil Service

, 8 July 2014

It was not intended as a criticism but as a warning. I agreed most strongly with the arguments set out in Martin’s speech which were almost identical with my own views about the role of what he called central policy civil service. If it is a priestly cult it is one of which I...

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