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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, 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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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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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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