They are upfront about what has gone less well: “we were too slow to mobilise… we did not identify clear leadership or adequate resources for the actions… it is vital to accelerate the programme of Civil Service Reform” There has been valuable progress on some important elements of the reform plan. Some ideas that looked promising in the plan have been turned into concrete actions such as creating ‘what works hubs’, improving policy making, and implementing the zero-based review of the Department for Education. And other ideas aim to deliver a step change in progress after years of previous efforts such as sharing transactional services, developing the digital strategy and strengthening the major projects authority. Francis Maude’s pursuit of a core reform agenda has driven much more change than any of his rather short-lived predecessors. However, for all the progress on some important actions and the merit of others, the corporate reform plan has simply not engaged the wider political and official leadership of the Civil Service. And the Prime Minister is not visibly backing reforms. Familiar barriers to centrally-driven change are frustrating efforts to reform – the Government remains deeply federal in its nature, and this feeds through into […]

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