Why the Prime Minister is wrong on pre-election contacts

, 31 March 2014

Of course, Labour and Whitehall will cope – as the Senior Civil Service always do. But the risk is that the preparations for a possible change of government will be less good than they should, or easily could, be. Pre-election contacts are crucial. They are far from foolproof: politicians rarely concentrate on what they...

Permalink | No Comments »

Guest blog: In defence of special advisers

, 27 March 2014

That doesn’t mean spads are a popular part of government. Andrew Blick’s excellent history of the position, People Who Live in the Dark, is peppered with the insults levelled at spads over the years, including ‘the sand in the machine’, ‘a huge menace to democracy’ and even ‘the rent boys of politics’. Perhaps such...

Permalink | No Comments »

It’s personal: why reform in the Civil Service succeeds or fails

, 25 March 2014

“We wanted the best, but everything turned out as usual.” The much quoted words of Viktor Chernomyrdin, the former prime minister of Russia, are apt when discussing UK civil service reform. Every few years, it seems, a new civil service reform plan is launched. The reforms often focus on well-trodden territory. Whether it’s improving...

Permalink | Comments (1) »

The challenges of departmental reform

, 25 March 2014

As our new report Transforming Whitehall One Year On: The challenges of departmental reform in Whitehall shows, there is no “one size fits all” route to answering them. Faced with finding savings of between 33% and 50% from their administration budgets, some departments have undertaken extensive restructuring, moved toward new operating models and investigated...

Permalink | No Comments »

Will new audit change give rise to a phoenix from the flames?

, 25 March 2014

The commission itself is being scrapped – a mere three years later than originally intended – in favour of the big, bad, idea that councils and other public bodies should appoint their own auditors. This, as the Institute for Government noted in its recent study Dying to Improve, overturns a longstanding principle that really...

Permalink | No Comments »

Beware the consensus rabbit

, 25 March 2014

Last Wednesday morning the twittersphere was awash with early sightings of the Easter bunny – aka George Osborne’s budget rabbit. The Treasury had helpfully “predicted a surprise” (that’s not a prediction – they had already printed the press notices and the Red Book), and “action for savers” was repeatedly trailed in between the welter...

Permalink | Comments (1) »