The Public Government of Public Money – not yet, not by a long way


Three decades ago two American academics published a superb analysis of the way in which British government’s made finance decisions provocatively entitled “The Private Government of Public Money” (Heclo and Wildavsky, 1981). Has the Coalition accidentally given birth to the ‘Public Government of Public Money?’ Continue reading

An Accountable Civil Servant – A different view

I received the following comment from a serving civil servant who wishes to remain anonymous. I publish it here (with their consent) and add a comment of my own at the end:

Although a civil servant I have some sympathy with Margaret Hodge in the recent debates over accountability; although the principle of civil servants being accountable to Parliament only through Ministers is fine, there’s a good case that it’s not working in practice.  But it seems to me that there are some very significant implications of such a change which have not really been acknowledged.   Continue reading

Civil Service Accountability and the CS Code

A civil service colleague wrote to me following my previous post about Civil Service accountability, pointing out the role of the ‘Civil Service Code’ in their accountability.

He was of course correct to point this out, but the ‘Code’ does not actually go as far as the ‘Armstrong Doctrine’ or the ‘Osmotherly Rules’ I talked about in my previous post. Continue reading

Saint GP. Why have GPs been elevated to special status in the health debate?

The whole NHS reform is based on an assertion – that GPs are somehow better placed to decide what NHS services need to be provided because they are in some sense ”closer to patients”.

The news story today that GPs seem to be failing to provide adequate services to elderly people in care homes raises doubts about this assumption. I tweeted about it and have had an interesting exchange with ”TheNiceLadyDoc” (a GP). Continue reading

Is the Civil Service Accountable to Parliament? Hodge vs O’Donnell spat opens a can of worms.

Is the Civil Service accountable to parliament?

Margaret Hodge MP, the formidable chair of the powerful Public Accounts Committee of Parliament says “yes”. Sir (now Lord) Gus O’Donnell and other ex-Mandarins say firmly “no”. (For details see the Guardian website here). Ironically, emerging in the week that Norman St John-Stevas (Baron St John of Fawsley) died, this dispute dates back to the introduction of the modern Select Committee system he initiated back in the early 1980s. Continue reading

The Price of Administrative Justice – too much for our government, apparently

Britain has always had a fairly weak system for correcting public administration injustices when compared to many other countries, where there are much more formal systems. More than half a million complaints have to be addressed every year through a myriad of different systems. The only body that has oversight of this lumbering edifice is the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC). The government now intends to abolish it, saving a tiny sum (if anything) and transferring its functions into the Ministry of Justice. Continue reading