Archive for September, 2012

Government outsourcing – too good to be true?

, 25 September 2012

The data presented in yesterday’s CBI report on public sector outsourcing is fascinating. On behalf of the CBI, Oxford Economics examined data from a number of government organisations and identified the rough proportions of expenditure on contracts in a range of public services. We find out, for example, that 48% of hospital security spending...

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The ideal mandarin: exhuming the dead generalist?

, 21 September 2012

What qualities does Letwin’s ideal mandarin need? “It’s not the double first in classics that matters it’s the attitude of mind that matters… it is important to… see that attitude of mind as one we want to celebrate… Unless the intellect is formed in a certain way… that person won’t be able to be...

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Posted in A more effective Whitehall | 5 Comments »

Guest blog: Why mandarins matter – a response

, 19 September 2012

The Minister again rejected suggestion that the Government should consider whether there should be “a stronger, perhaps constitutional, role for the Civil Service in promoting the long-term national interest, to help counteract the negative, short-term pressures on Ministers.” He then said: “the civil service is not called upon to formulate political programmes or to...

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Improving accountability— an urgent search without easy solutions

, 17 September 2012

The Government is right to look overseas for ideas on alternative structures of ministerial/civil service relations. There is a strong case for strengthening accountability, both within Whitehall and with Parliament. But the new review, to be conducted by outsiders, is likely to find that, while there are intriguing lessons from abroad, there are no...

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Understanding David Cameron’s (and Nick Clegg’s) women problem

, 14 September 2012

A striking result of the reshuffle is the gap in the middle of the ministerial hierarchy. With the exception of the demoted Baroness Warsi, there is not one other woman at minister of state level. This leaves little chance to improve the balance in a hypothetical 2015 cabinet, as neither party leader will have...

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The Coalition after the reshuffle

, 13 September 2012

What do personnel changes tell us about political undercurrents? Often what we already know. Thus with Lords reform and the boundary review kicked into the long grass, it is unsurprising that Mark Harper has not been replaced as Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, and his duties are instead being taken on part-time by...

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Who wants to be a senior civil servant?

, 10 September 2012

The Public Accounts Committee recently published its report ‘Managing early departures in central government’. The Institute agreed with many of the PAC conclusions – but the report has a solely technocratic view of the reality of managing reductions in staff numbers. Senior civil servants are people, not just bloodless lightning conductors, punchbags or beasts...

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Posted in A more effective Whitehall | 7 Comments »

Reshuffle: the verdict

, 5 September 2012

Reshuffles can achieve a number of objectives, but they rarely solve the government’s big problems, and carry risks of their own, as we discussed in our recent discussion paper Shuffling the Pack. One problem is that reshuffles can highlight a prime minister’s weakness as much as his power. For David Cameron, the main constraint...

Posted in Parliament and the political process | 2 Comments »

Paul Deighton’s challenge as a minister

, 5 September 2012

Paul Deighton is the latest in a distinguished line of GOATs brought in to provide business and delivery expertise for the Government. The future Lord Deighton — as he will become when he takes over in January from Lord Sassoon as unpaid Commercial Secretary to the Treasury — has had a very successful career...

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Putting airports policy into commission

, 4 September 2012

The track record is not promising. Previous attempts to use outsiders to solve planning dilemmas have not worked that well – Kate Barker’s review of the planning system failed to change much – and the government spent eight months wrangling over the new National Planning Policy Framework despite asking outsiders to produce the first...

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