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...

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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...

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Pre-election policy costings – practical lessons from overseas

, 19 March 2014

Last week Robert Chote, Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility, told the Treasury Select Committee that allowing the OBR to cost party policies before an election would ‘offer the prospect of improving the quality of policy development for parties… and potentially improve the quality of public debate’. This question was raised in October...

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Clarity about pre-election contact with the Civil Service will lead to better government

, 13 March 2014

Since the first pre-election contacts between Whitehall and the Opposition began 50 years ago ahead of the 1964 election, various conventions and practices have grown up, as discussed in two IfG reports written by Catherine Haddon and myself (Transitions- preparing for changes of government published in November 2009, and Transitions: Lessons Learned – Reflections...

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Mr Gove’s next schools test

, 4 March 2014

When it emerged in the early 2000s, the idea behind academy schools was straightforward. Schools that were failing, particularly in deprived communities, were to be rebranded. Extra money, reinvigorated leadership with freedom to manage, and more specialised curricula were all intended to improve performance and signal that educational failure was no longer being tolerated....

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Emergent Ministerial Offices

, 3 March 2014

A new role at the Department of Work and Pensions is currently being advertised on the Civil Service recruitment website – for a deputy director in the “Ministerial Policy and Delivery Unit”. The specification reads: “This new role is going to be at the heart of agenda. The successful candidate will support the...

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