A more effective Whitehall

Civil servants, ministers, the centre and departments

Freedom of Information appeals and reviews in 2015

, 26 April 2016

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), if someone requesting information is dissatisfied with the response they get, they can ask the department concerned for an ‘internal review’ – which may or may not be acted on. If the requester is still dissatisfied after an internal review is carried out, they...

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Departments in the line of FOIA: how Whitehall responds to Freedom of Information requests

, 22 April 2016

Between October and December 2015, monitored government bodies received 11,039 FoI requests. In the last quarter of 2015, government departments (as defined by the Cabinet Office, which publishes the numbers) received 7,725 FoI requests, while other government organisations (see the full list) received 3,314 – a total of 11,039 requests. This was fewer than the amount of...

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Sharing and safeguarding data in government

, 20 April 2016

Sharing data – with government, with public services, with companies like Amazon and Google – is an inescapable part of modern life. The Government’s consultation on data sharing, Better Use of Data, outlines legislative proposals to ‘modernise the UK data landscape’ and allow data to be shared across government, while ensuring it is ‘used...

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The DECC change programme

, 20 April 2016

In September 2015, DECC approached the Institute for Government to provide insights on its change programme. The ‘DECC Works’ project aimed to reduce the department’s headcount (a 16% reduction by 2018), support new ways of working (such as improving the way the department prioritised), and change its shape (as the department was seen to...

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Health and Justice struggle to stay within spending limits

, 19 April 2016

The Treasury has published detailed spending data on the first three quarters of the year as part of their quarterly OSCAR release, allowing us to examine the cost pressures within departments. While the Budget showed that some departments are already struggling to implement their spending plans, the Chancellor was clear that he expected more...

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Impermanent markers? Permanent secretary objectives, 2015–16

, 14 April 2016

We were critical of permanent secretary objectives when they were first published in 2012–13, and then again in 2013–14. There were too many objectives and not enough measures. They were published too late into the year they applied to. There was too much inconsistency for them to be useful in performance management. And there...

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How good are government departments at responding to MPs?

, 1 April 2016

An important part of any department’s work is responding to inquiries from politicians, journalists and the public. Whitehall Monitor works with data on three different types of these information requests, assessing how well departments do in responding to parliamentary questions, Freedom of Information requests and ministerial correspondence. Now, with data provided by the research...

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Distracted Ministers

, 28 March 2016

The Government has an ambitious agenda, aiming to deliver a budget surplus by 2019/20 while maintaining or even improving the standards of public services. It is doing this in a much more difficult situation than its original round of cuts in 2010. Many public services are now under serious pressure – for example, in...

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The Civil Service is 18% smaller than in 2010. Now what?

, 18 March 2016

In this week’s Budget, the Chancellor set the government some new challenges: around 70 new measures to implement (including complex reform of the education system), and a further £3.5 billion in ‘efficiency’ savings to find. This work will be done by a Civil Service that has shrunk by 18% since 2010, and will continue...

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Civil Service People Survey: bullying and discrimination, happiness and anxiety

, 7 March 2016

Civil servants have lower reported happiness and life satisfaction levels than the general population, but are less likely to feel anxious in their work environment. Around two-thirds (65%) of civil servants rated their life satisfaction as 7–10/10, but this is significantly lower than the 80% of the general public who said the same. Similarly,...

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