Guest blog: Accountability under the spotlight

, 27 March 2013

One permanent secretary said “appearing before the PAC doesn’t change the price of fish”. Officials at HMRC and the Care Quality Commission may take a different view but it remains a fair question. Would defining better the respective roles of ministers and civil servants transform things? Will the latest civil service reforms make all...

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Are public inquiries worth the time, money and resources?

, 25 March 2013

Leveson’s recommendation for a “genuinely independent and effective system of self-regulation” by the press has become the subject of 2 am deal stitched up by party leaders followed by a self-congratulatory vote in favour in the Commons. Francis consists of the shock and awe of a near 2,000 page report with almost 2,000 pages...

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Politicisation of the Civil Service: beware the straw men

, 15 March 2013

In 1994 John Major’s Government published The Civil Service: Continuity and Change, a white paper taking stock of the Service after a period of significant upheaval. It is a title that could have been used at any point in the last 150 years. The story of our public administration is precisely one of the...

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What Lord Butler saw: history advice for government

, 14 March 2013

The government has a potential treasure trove of previous experience at its disposal if it chooses to use it – whether on the role of the Cabinet Office in trying to improve efficiency (Thatcher), ministerial v Treasury relations over public spending cuts (see past governments ad nauseum), or the implications of military intervention abroad...

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Making interchange work for the Civil Service

, 12 March 2013

Interchange sounds great in theory. But our politics, and media, doesn’t like the ‘revolving door’. And the civil service has a cultural problem with it too; it feels that civil servants who leave have betrayed the public ethos, and outsiders who have come remain that, outsiders. I am parti pris on this having left...

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Spending Review 2013: taking on the union

, 6 March 2013

After a decade of steadily rising budgets, the 2010 Spending Review set out spending cuts on a scale greater than anything since demobilisation. Still relatively fresh in post, ministers were generally ready and willing to cut public spending dramatically in their departments as a contribution to cutting the deficit. Some went further, wanting to...

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