This report, Reshaping Government, examines the impact of structural reforms on government effectiveness.
It argues that rushed departmental changes often leave little legacy beyond enormous disruption and a large bill for the taxpayer. Although reforms can work well when built around clear business needs – the 2001 creation of the Department of Work and Pensions is an example – they are often carried out too fast and for the wrong reasons.
We make four main recommendations, which are set out in greater detail in the main body of this report:
- The PM should be required to produce a supporting business case and a clear estimate of costs before implementing changes, and a specialist unit should assist this process.
- Parliament should scrutinise and vote on substantial restructures. There should also be an opportunity for select committees to examine proposals.
- The Cabinet Secretary should develop specific capabilities at the centre to advise on structural change and governance.
- The Government should explore and develop other to improve collaboration across departments without structural change. for example, by reforming spending review processes; reinvigorating cross-Whitehall performance management; using cross-departmental goals, budgets and teams; deploying specialist skills on a more cross-departmental basis; and building up capacity around the prime minister.