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.

25 September 2012

The Confederation of British Industries (CBI) tells us that government can save over £20 billion pounds without affecting the quality of public service, simply through increased outsourcing. Does this sound too good to be true?

21 September 2012

The Civil Service Reform Plan signalled a serious appetite for reform: “the old idea of a civil service 'generalist' is dead – everyone needs the right combination of professionalism, expert skills and subject matter expertise.” In a remarkable speech at the IfG recently Oliver Letwin painted a very different picture of his ideal mandarin.

19 September 2012

In his recent comments to the Institute for Government about the Civil Service, the Cabinet Office Minister with responsibility for policy, Oliver Letwin MP, made a claim about the views of the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) which can only be described as a distortion of what we recommended in our recent report, Strategic thinking in Government: without National Strategy, can viable Government strategy emerge? (HC 1625 24 April 2012).

17 September 2012

The Government has announced a competition asking for think tanks and academic institutions to bid to undertake a review of how other governments and multilateral organisations are structured and how they operate. A good question, but one without easy answers.

14 September 2012

Last week’s reshuffle left the Government with a cabinet that is 85% male, with female secretaries of state in mostly marginal positions covering 8% of departmental spend. This raised questions yet again about the under-representation of women in politics. But with a commitment from the prime minister to righting his 'women problem', can we expect better in future?

13 September 2012

A week after the reshuffle, the Government is getting back down to normal business. But how will the wide-ranging ministerial changes of last week affect how the Coalition functions?

10 September 2012

Recent departures of high profile senior civil servants for no obvious reason have perplexed those who like a good row or an indiscretion. Perhaps the answer lies elsewhere – in the grinding reality of downsizing, a dwindling sense of personal achievement and the continuous if low-level criticism from ministers, advisors and select committees.