A more effective Whitehall

Civil servants, ministers, the centre and departments

Bringing thinktank data out of the bunker

, 29 January 2015

Scientists, and increasingly data journalists, are being asked to publish the data behind their work. What about thinktanks? Petr Bouchal and Gavin Freeguard think they should follow suit.

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Defence secretary Fallon opens new fronts in outsourcing campaign

, 29 January 2015

One of the pillars of this transformation has been the MOD’s evolving relationship with the private sector – both as a purchaser of materiel and services, and through ambitious partnerships with the private sector. And the defence secretary made clear his determination to continue this work, setting out three more partnerships to be completed...

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Adverse opinion: the DfE’s struggle with academies

, 23 January 2015

The C&AG’s opinion resulted from the department’s faltering effort to get to grips with the rapidly growing academies sector, for which the department is responsible. At this stage, it will be helpful to go through a bit of context and explanation of how this came about and what it means. The C&AG’s warnings do...

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Under FOIA: departments’ responses to freedom of information requests

, 21 January 2015

Between July and September (Q3) 2014, monitored government bodies received 11,234 freedom of information requests – only two quarters this parliament had fewer requests. Altogether, over 100,000 bodies are subject to the FoI Act, but the MoJ only publishes statistics for 41 of them – government departments and some other bodies such as the...

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Why David Cameron should care whether ‘lines on the graphs go in the right direction’

‘I didn’t come into politics to make the lines on the graphs go in the right direction.’ Prime Minister David Cameron, speech to Conservative Party Conference, October 2014 David Cameron’s comments on graphs at last October’s Conservative Party conference raised a few eyebrows (and a few laughs). It was only the start of an...

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Forecasting Government spending: why pointless numbers lead to pointless arguments

, 14 January 2015

Arguments over fiscal policy are coming two-a-penny at the moment. Yesterday’s debate on the Charter for Budget Responsibility was the latest instalment. Behind all this debate lie the Autumn Statement numbers, when the Chancellor made much play of the forecast that the UK would have a budget surplus of £23bn by 2019-20. Suggestions that...

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Top marks for improvement: Civil servant engagement in DfE, 2009-2014

, 12 January 2015

Whitehall Monitor has previously analysed the fall in engagement among civil servants at the Department for Education. But the results for the department in the 2014 Civil Service People Survey are a considerable improvement. Gavin Freeguard and Petr Bouchal take a closer look.


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We need to talk about special advisers

, 19 December 2014

Yesterday saw the great pre-Christmas ‘data dump’ where a number of government departments published their final set of statistics and releases before the holidays. One of the items, a list of special advisers and how much they are paid, has received some media attention and in the process become something of a political football....

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Counting down but not enough? The latest civil service staff numbers

, 17 December 2014

The civil service now employs 406,690 FTE, down 1,360 on the previous quarter. Overall, the shape of the line in the chart above suggests that achieving the government’s aspiration regarding staff numbers has not been as easy as the early data suggested. In the first year after the 2010 Spending Review, the civil service...

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Work, rest and pay: Civil Service engagement in departments

, 16 December 2014

As we explained in our previous post on the Civil Service People Survey, the questions civil servants are asked are clustered in several themes. A score of 100% means that civil servants strongly agree with the question asked, 75% that they agree, 50% that they neither agree nor disagree, 25% that they disagree and 0%...

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