Archive for October, 2012

West Coast Mainline 2: Laidlaw confirms it’s serious

, 30 October 2012

The cautious, and heavily caveated, interim report demolishes the ‘rogue trader’ view: that the flawed process was the result of mistakes by just a few civil servants. Rather, they ‘appear to have been caused by factors including inadequate planning and preparation, a complex organisational structure and a weak governance and quality assurance framework’. The questions...

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Big bang – will Grayling’s payment by results ‘rocket boosters’ reduce reoffending rates?

, 23 October 2012

The idea of outsourcing reoffending services and increasingly paying providers ‘by results’ is not new. The voluntary sector has provided rehabilitation services for over a century. Private providers have delivered rehabilitation services for decades, both in the UK and internationally. And contracting methods have evolved rapidly over the past twenty years, with the idea...

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Special advisers – out of the shadows and into the light

, 16 October 2012

First of all, special advisers play a vital role in government including helping to protect the impartiality of the civil service. As we highlighted in The Challenges of Being a Minister, ministers can be isolated and lonely. Special advisers can help as loyal, informed and politically sympathetic colleagues. An environment of openness, confidence and...

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Police and crime commissioners: teething problems

, 15 October 2012

Sir Hugh Orde, the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), described the Coalition Government’s decision to introduce directly elected commissioners as “the biggest changes to our model of policing since 1829”. From 15 November onwards, the new PCCs will hire and fire police chief constables (who continue to manage operations day...

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Ministerial involvement in civil service appointments

, 10 October 2012

In a speech at the Institute for Government on 2 October, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude set out his case for giving ministers a greater role in the appointment of permanent secretaries, in a week in which the mishandled West Coast rail franchise decision kept the issue of civil service accountability in the spotlight....

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Better training – what does the West Coast debacle tell us about commissioning skills?

, 4 October 2012

This summer, the Institute warned (again) that civil servants did not always feel well equipped to manage some of the complex contracting arrangements that are now central to many public services. In our report Commissioning for Success we noted that the problem was particularly acute in those departments who were relatively new to the...

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West Coast Mainline

, 3 October 2012

Of course, such incidents should not tarnish the whole Civil Service. There are many examples of high quality performance, improvement and commitment to reform across Whitehall, not least in the handling of the Olympics project by the Civil Service (to be discussed in a series of forthcoming Institute for Government events, and a report)....

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Evidenceballs

, 2 October 2012

The Blair government made much of its belief in evidence-based policy making. Yet as our report, Policy Making in the Real World showed, 12 years after the original Modernising Government report, both minister and civil servants recognised that learning from evaluation in particular remained a continuing area of relative weakness. Our new report, Evidence...

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