Making policy better

Improving Whitehall's core business
Date: 
18 April 2011
Authors: 
Jill Rutter, Michael Hallsworth

Our new report proposes a series of changes to embed better policy making into the system. They build on the new Policy Skills Framework announced by the Civil Service last year – but drive those changes further and faster. We call for:

  • A public statement by each department (secretary of state and permanent secretary) on how they will meet a set of new “policy fundamentals” - the building blocks of good policy. The minister and the civil service can then be held to account by, for instance, a departmental select committee, on how far they have met that commitment
  • A new responsibility for the permanent secretary to ensure that ‘good policy process’ has been followed – along the lines of their existing responsibility for value for money; Policy Directors in departments would be personally accountable to departmental select committees for the quality of ‘policy assessments’ published alongside new policies
  • A new Head of Policy Effectiveness in the Cabinet Office – a very senior official responsible for ensuring the quality of policy making in government, overseeing evaluations to make sure they are both independent and used and able to commission lessons learned exercises when things go wrong
  • New emphasis on both ministers and civil servants recognising the value each brings to the policy making process.
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