Re-Centering the State? Pulling Arms-Length Bodies back into the Centre

A new report from the National Audit Office examines the British governments attempts to reorganise “arms-length bodies” in the UK. One of the central conclusions is that the reorganisation is dragging many of the functions of these bodies back to the ‘centre’ and closer to political control – in other words a big shift from quasi-autonomy back to hierarchical control. This is being achieved by either abolishing bodies and absorbing functions back into Ministries, or changing the status of the bodies. I reprint below the NAO’s own short summary of their findings, but the whole report is worth reading.

One final note: the Report contains nothing about the abolition of the NAO’s “sister” body the Audit Commission (as David Walker has pointed out). A very curious omission. Continue reading

Old Wine in New Bottles? Logging the Name Changes in Government

There is often more continuity between themselves and their predecessors than any new Government cares to admit. One way they seek to disguise these continuities is to change the names of things, with minimal change to the actual thing itself, whether it’s a policy, a system or an organisation. Continue reading