Archive for March, 2012

A turning point for England’s big cities?

, 29 March 2012

The public debate lags far behind the electoral timetable, however. Recent polling for the BBC found that 62% of respondents in Yorkshire still didn’t know the vote was coming up. And a poll for BBC West Midlands found 59% of Birmingham citizens are unaware of the referendum. Fortunately, awareness is likely to improve. Earlier...

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Guest blog – ‘An open letter: two challenges and an opportunity’

, 28 March 2012

Below are a few initial thoughts on the challenges outlined by IfG. Prospect argues for new professional approaches to deliver better quality services, set standards for ethical behaviour and fair employment practices. This is a hair’s breadth from IfG’s aspiration to create a high-quality, high-morale and highly effective civil service. But we don’t think...

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Health risks

, 20 March 2012

Most civil service risk registers are barely worth the name. When I was at Defra our risk registers made no mention of dangerous climate change, or new evidence suggesting all our environmental policies were unaffordable, or large scale flooding, or the animal health equivalent of the five plagues. Instead the usual risk register focused...

Posted in Better policy making | 1 Comment »

The Hodge question: to whom are civil servants accountable?

, 19 March 2012

Permanent secretaries cannot just privately seethe over Mrs Hodge’s more aggressive style at the PAC, and, in particular, the decision to require the HMRC’s lawyer to swear an oath -which prompted a strong exchange of letters with Gus O’Donnell just before his retirement. The new civil service leadership has sought to cool the temperature,...

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Guest blog — Civil service reform: breaking out of ‘the doom loop’

, 16 March 2012

The Cabinet Office default approach to reform is as follows: White Papers, a Cabinet Office DG, reform strands led by permanent secretaries, action plans for departments, units to monitor departmental progress, annual reports on progress. Like medieval Italian warfare, all these things will be beautifully paraded, but when the final trumpets have sounded, everyone...

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An unevenly wielded axe

, 15 March 2012

This is not an era of job security for civil servants. The National Audit Office (NAO) notes that 114,000 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff from the civil service are expected to leave between 2010 and 2015 – a reduction of 23%. Our latest Whitehall Monitor report shows that there has already been a reduction...

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The strange death of Budget purdah

, 12 March 2012

Mansion tax anyone? Tycoon tax? 50p rate maintained? An end to higher rate relief on pensions? Hiking tax thresholds – boon to the poor or regressive move? Or cutting corporation tax to 20 per cent? The Budget starter list (the usual starting point for the budget process listing all the options potentially on the...

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Women are ready for the top, but is the top ready for them?

, 8 March 2012

Times have changed, but still the path is not clear for women in more junior and middle management levels of government and for some who have spoken out such as Ursula Brennan and Helen Ghosh, there is more to their success story than simply creating the positions for them. That is why the EU...

Posted in A more effective Whitehall | 4 Comments »

Competitive policy making

, 7 March 2012

Before I explain what some of those might be, let’s be clear on terms. I am not advocating the outsourcing of policy functions and I am not sure Jeremy Heywood was either when he suggested that the Civil Service should lose its policy making monopoly. ‘Outsourcing’ implies that we are going to give Deloitte...

Posted in A more effective Whitehall, Better policy making | 3 Comments »

Two challenges and an opportunity

, 6 March 2012

They made their first public appearance together to respond to the open letter sent to them by the Institute for Government. The letter drew on the Institute’s research to spell out the six issues that most need attention as they develop their plan for civil service reform. It argues that without urgent reform there...

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