Civil service reform plan – real change or a tweak?

By Tony Collins

The civil service reform plan is to be published this afternoon, at 3.30pm.  The Cabinet Office minister  Francis Maude and Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service, write about it in today’s Daily Telegraph.

They say that the plan will help deliver a civil service culture that is “pacier, more innovative, less hierarchical and focused on outcomes not process”. They write:

“We also need sharper accountability, in particular from permanent secretaries and those leading major projects, and we need more digital services, better data and management information and for policy and implementation to be linked seamlessly together…”

In the same edition of the Telegraph Andrew Haldenby,  director of the independent think tank Reform, criticises the reform plan which, although not yet published, has been foretold in newspapers including the Financial Times yesterday.

He said the reform plan will “leave the flawed structures of Whitehall in place and do no more than propose some minor variations on a theme”.

We await publication of the paper before we judge it. We hope it will, at least, require the publication of “Gateway” review reports on the progress or otherwise of major IT-enabled projects.

Without timely publication of the Major Projects Authority’s Gateway reports, MPs and the public will continue to learn of failed schemes such as the NPfIT and Firecontrol when it is too late to do much about any rescue; and without contemporaneous publication there will continue to be no accountability for the rigour or otherwise of the reviews, or their outcome.

Civil service reform – meltdown or business as usual? – Institute for Government

Cabinet Office promises unprecedented openness on big, risky projects.

Civil service shake-up – Guardian

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