A survey of the relationships between public bodies and government departments

The Code of Good Practice for partnerships between government departments and public bodies was published by the Cabinet Office in February 2017. The Code was developed by a working group of departmental and public body representatives as a response to the findings of a National Audit Office review of and subsequent Public Accounts Committee hearing into the oversight of public bodies, which highlighted a lack of consistency across government departments.

To encourage better relationships and in support of the Code, the Public Chairs’ Forum (PCF), the Association of Chief Executives (ACE) and the Institute for Government sent a survey to chairs and chief executives of public bodies, to assess their current relationships with their departments. The survey questions were based around the four principles of the Code: purpose, assurance, value and engagement. This report highlights the key findings of the survey.

The results also highlight the necessity of better cross-government working beyond the direct public body–department relationship, including strategic engagement with HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office on cross-government directives. If embedded in practice, the principles of the Code present a good opportunity to improve the relationships between public bodies and departments. However, this report shows that there are several areas where this is not yet being realised.

PCF, ACE and the Institute for Government will redistribute the survey in 2018 to test whether improvements have been achieved since the publication of the Code.

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