Lies, Damned Lies and Government misuse of official statistics: Select Committee Attacks Government

I reproduce here the Press Release issued today by the Public Administration Select Committee – it speaks for itself.

Here is the link to the actual Report: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubadm/77/77.pdf

Continue reading

Lord O’Donnell Suggests …. that someone rather like him should be put in charge of vetting government policy. Seriously?

Lord O’Donnell, former head of the civil service, has put forward some ideas for better scrutiny of proposed government policies. According to a report in Civil Service World:

Among ideas to prevent “bad policies” from being introduced, [O’Donnell] said a new Office of Taxpayer Responsibility (OTR) should assess policies, requiring the government to specify their objectives and explain how success would be measured. Continue reading

PASC Takes PM to Task Over Ministerial Inquiries.

It’s couched in polite terms, but today the Public Administration Select Committee issued what amounted to a bruising attack on PM David Cameron.

The PASC said the PM was wrong to ask the Cabinet Secretary to investigate the Andrew Mitchell ‘plebgate’ affair, wrong for not to using the Independent Advisor on Ministers’ Interests instead, and wrong for ignoring a previous report of the PASC and resolution passed by the Commons.

For a Government supposedly committed to openness, transparency, accountability and taking Parliament more seriously, this is a pretty devastating critique. Continue reading

Top Twenty Whitehall Watch blog posts

Here’s the top twenty Whitehall Watch blog posts (so far) and the number of views. This doesn’t include numbers for posts that have been republished by Public Finance, Public Servant, LSE Policy and Politics and the Huffington Post. Continue reading

Dave says we’re headed in the right direction, what do you think?

PM David Cameron claims we are ‘headed in the right direction’. Below are the latest headline figures from the Office of National Statistics website on the state of our national finances (so all their words, not mine, I’ve just added a few helpful highlights):

Latest figures (Nov 2011)

  • Public sector net borrowing was £17.5 billion in November 2012; this is £1.2 billion higher net borrowing than in November 2011, when net borrowing was £16.3 billion.
  • Public sector current budget deficit was £15.8 billion in November 2012; this is a £1.0 billion higher deficit than in November 2011, when there was a deficit of £14.8 billion.
  • For the period April to November 2012, public sector net borrowing (excluding the capital payment recorded as part of the Royal Mail Pension Plan transfer in April 2012) was £92.7 billion; this is £8.3 billion higher net borrowing than in the same period the previous year, when net borrowing was £84.4 billion.
  • In 2011/12, public sector net borrowing was £121.6 billion; this is £4.4 billion lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasted net borrowing for 2011/12 of £126.0 billion.
  • Public sector net debt was £1083.6 billion at the end of November 2012, equivalent to 68.5% of gross domestic product (GDP).

As far as I can see the only ‘positive’ in this is that public sector net borrowing was less than the OBR forecast, but it was still higher than the previous year.

Co-Evolution of the Development of Public Administration, Democracy and Capitalism

Philipp Krause has raised some very interesting issues about the development of public finance institutions in emerging economies (which are equally applicable to wider public administration capacity development in emerging countries). Continue reading

G4S and rethinking public services: going beyond ‘one size fits all’

guest post by John Alford and Janine O’Flynn

 The G4S fiasco surrounding security for the London Olympics has sparked debate about the problems of contracting out. In a new book, John Alford and Janine O’Flynn argue for a broader approach to utilizing external providers as the key to avoiding or at least minimizing the pitfalls Continue reading

policy@manchester launches

Public policy community comes together

12 Jul 2012

The University of Manchester has established Policy@Manchester as a network bringing together a range of academics working in a variety of public policy areas. Continue reading

Jeremy Hunt (DCMS) debacle raises again the issue of Civil Service Reform

This week saw an extraordinary outburst from the most recently retired Head of the Civil Service, Lord Gus O’Donnell. He said, on the BBC, “”When governments go through difficult patches you are looking for who you can blame. The issue comes up of ‘well, let’s try and blame the Civil Service’. It does not usually work and I don’t think it will work this time either.”

Now I am not one of those who would blame the Government’s current ills on the Civil Service, or at any rate not entirely. Most of what has happened to them has been because of crass and rushed policy-making on the hoof, without proper thought and analysis. Certainly sometimes Civil Servants have failed to say “no, Minister” when they should have, but Ministers have only themselves to blame when things go wrong. Ministers who allow official or unofficial advisers to run amok, as in Defence or now DCMS, can hardly blame the Civil Service for not stopping them (even if the CS should have).

But that does not exonerate the Civil Service. I have been saying for years that our supposedly “Rolls Royce” Civil Service has deep flaws in its institutional make-up. Continue reading