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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.