Reforming the Senior Civil Service – what do you think?

The #GreatWestCoastRailShambles has raised again the issue of the competence, or otherwise, of the Senior Civil Service.

Ministers are blaming the mess purely on civil servants, whilst others are pointing to a flawed policy. Without a lot more information, it’s hard to know how much of each was involved. But it certainly gives even more ‘edge’ to current project to re-examine the relationship between Ministers and Mandarins commissioned by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude. The contract was awarded to IPPR, with me participating in the project (see here). Continue reading

Romney tells Secret Service detail to “go and get a real job” – well, not really but that’s what he implied…

[President Obama] “took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have, and one that was essential to the task at hand.  He had almost no experience working in a business.  Jobs to him are about government.” Mitt Romney in his acceptance speech.

I was struck by this largely ignored passage in Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech in Tampa for two reasons. Continue reading

Targets? What targets? Change and Continuity in the performance regime in Whitehall

We were told, when the new Coalition Government came to be, that it would put an end to “New Labour targetry”. The use of targets for public sector performance had become a bête noir of both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Opposition and they apparently couldn’t wait to scrap the whole lot once they were in power.

And indeed they did immediately scrap the Public Service Agreements (30) and Departmental Strategic Objectives (95 for the Departments we have counted).

But for the past two decades I have had this annoying habit – I don’t believe Governments, especially about these sorts of things. So I have done what I usually do and gone and counted. And the answers are surprising, even to me. Continue reading

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

The Civil Service Reform Plan – Mostly Old Wine in Very Old, but relabelled, Bottles.

The Civil Service Reform Plan announced yesterday mostly rehashes old solutions, some sensible, others of dubious worth – but mostly renames stuff and proclaims it as if it was ‘new’. The cry of ‘cultural change’, for example, towards greater managerial responsibility and accountability has been repeated in Whitehall at least since Rayner and FMI, if not Fulton. If it still hasn’t happened after 5 decades (depending on where you count from) it raises rather fundamental issues, surely? Continue reading