A more effective Whitehall

Civil servants, ministers, the centre and departments

Guest blog: Bernard Jenkin MP on permanent secretary objectives and role of Civil Service CEO

, 31 July 2014

The Civil Service is one of the great institutions of state. Under our constitution, the executive exercises the Royal Prerogative and enjoys substantial de facto control over the legislature and appointments to the judiciary. Governments come and go, and having no codified constitution, or formal separation of powers, Parliament depends upon this body of...

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Challenges facing the new Civil Service chief executive

, 29 July 2014

The new CEO will have important roles, but more modest and limited than those of a chief executive as normally understood. He or she will not run the Civil Service or line manage Permanent Secretaries, as a CEO elsewhere would. So what does the job involve? And will it help fix any of the...

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

, 28 July 2014

There is a view that the Coalition is going further than its predecessors in wising to break the Northcote-Trevelyan settlement. It is noteworthy that a senior mandarin has put the case for civil service neutrality. Donnelly says much that makes sense but perhaps pulls his punches. He could reasonably ask whether in our parliamentary...

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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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