This report looks at the attempts to improve policy making over the past fourteen years through looking at:

  • Processes -  the Treasury’s policy cycle
  • Qualities – the Cabinet Office's characteristics of good policy
  • Structures – the creation of Strategy Units and flexible project pools
  • Politics – finally incorporated in the new Policy Skills framework for civil servants.

Based on interviews with 50 senior civil servants and 20 former ministers, along with studying 60 evaluations of government policy, we argue that these reforms all fell short because they did not take account of the crucial role of politics and ministers and, as such, failed to build ways of making policy that were resilient to the real pressures and incentives in the system.