Posts tagged with ‘ Accountability ’

A really useful inquiry

, 6 September 2013

Inquiry blight is a real danger. But, as the latest report from the Public Administration Select Committee, Truth to power: how Civil Service reform can succeed, argues, there is a lot wrong now and there are a wide range of questions about the future of Whitehall going well beyond existing proposals which should be...

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Future directions for the Accounting Officer system

, 3 September 2013

Earlier this year the Major Projects Authority gave 31 out of 191 government projects an Amber/Red or Red rating, signalling that there are problems with implementation. Yet all of these projects have had the implicit endorsement of the permanent secretary of the department responsible as being both good value for money and feasible –...

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Long live the pen! A look behind today’s National Archives release

, 1 August 2013

The highlights in the newspapers bring to life the inner workings of government from 30 years ago. The content is fascinating. We discover details about nuclear release procedures in light of the increased presence of US nuclear weapons on UK soil, and the degree to which, to her fury, Mrs Thatcher was kept out...

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Ministerial private offices need a boost

, 16 April 2013

Awaiting the minister in the department will be a private office, a ‘life support machine’ that sustains each minister from the minute they arrive. This small group of officials plays a key role in helping each minister to carry out his or her role effectively, yet its own basic structure and role is rarely...

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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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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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Who wants to be a senior civil servant?

, 10 September 2012

The Public Accounts Committee recently published its report ‘Managing early departures in central government’. The Institute agreed with many of the PAC conclusions – but the report has a solely technocratic view of the reality of managing reductions in staff numbers. Senior civil servants are people, not just bloodless lightning conductors, punchbags or beasts...

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The Hodge question: to whom are civil servants accountable?

, 19 March 2012

Permanent secretaries cannot just privately seethe over Mrs Hodge’s more aggressive style at the PAC, and, in particular, the decision to require the HMRC’s lawyer to swear an oath -which prompted a strong exchange of letters with Gus O’Donnell just before his retirement. The new civil service leadership has sought to cool the temperature,...

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PAC introduces the "Hodge doctrine?"

, 16 November 2011

While attention has been focussed on the UK Border Agency hearings at the Home Affairs Select Committee, a lower profile hearing on Monday broke some new ground on civil service accountability. At issue was whether Home Office Permanent Secretary Dame Helen Ghosh would appear before the PAC to answer questions about the decisions she...

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Pass the parcel (or The buck stops where?)

, 27 September 2011

Government accountability for policy mistakes rests on a series of ambiguities which can too easily turn into ‘who, not me’ evasions. Among many other lessons, the Public Accounts Committee’s damning report on the £469 million (minimum) waste on the now abandoned FiReControl project exposes one of the inherent flaws in the auditing of large-scale...

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