01 November 2012

A BBC investigation has identified a number of care homes that are rated five-star but also fail to meet the minimum standards of acceptable care. This sounds confusing, but the explanation is disappointingly obvious.

01 November 2012

In the debate on the interaction of ministers and permanent secretaries, there must surely be one core issue: can the ministers and their secretaries work together effectively. They don’t have to like each other; they don’t need to be friends (indeed a degree of distance may be desirable). But they do have to cooperate. So to ensure that cooperation will exist, should ministers be involved in the selection of their permanent secretaries and what difference does it make?

30 October 2012

Sam Laidlaw’s initial findings on the West Coast Main Line franchise shambles are as damning an assessment on the workings of government as anything I have read for a long time—not least because they are written by the Department for Transport’s own lead non-executive director.

23 October 2012

Today, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling restated his intention to ‘roll out’ ‘payment by results’ (PbR) across the justice system. What are the advantages and pitfalls of moving swiftly?

16 October 2012

The recent Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) report highlights many of the issues and concerns that have developed around special advisers and their role in government.

15 October 2012

In precisely a month’s time voters in England and Wales will elect police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for the very first time. But how many voters will turn up and will candidates really be prepared for office?

10 October 2012

The government wants to extend the role of ministers in the appointment process for top civil servants. What are the issues at stake?

04 October 2012

If we can’t get rail franchising right, what hope is there for the Government’s public service reform agenda?

03 October 2012

The scrapping of the West Coast Mainline franchise award goes to the heart of the Civil Service’s credibility and reputation for competence. At a time when relations between some ministers and some senior civil servants are already strained, the disclosures could hardly be more damaging. In many respects, this is more serious than the furore of five years ago when the apparently inadvertent loss of computer discs with child benefit records led to the resignation of Paul Gray as head of HMRC.

02 October 2012

The shadow chancellor’s announcement yesterday of a temporary stamp duty holiday for first time buyers to boost the housing market tells us a lot about the way in which evidence is ‘used’ in policy making.