The rumblings The press is full of questions about the accountability and competence of the senior civil service. Francis Maude, amongst others, has spoken critically of the Civil Service and recognised that the 2012 white paper has not led to transformative change. Of course, the professional defenders of the Civil Service point to its recent achievements – managing the transition to coalition government, stewarding major policy change, securing major cuts in public expenditure, and dealing with tough foreign policy challenges. What is really going on? There is a very mixed picture There is no single diagnosis across the whole civil service. Different departments and agencies are at different stage of absorbing change and face different kinds of challenges. At one end of the scale, the Foreign Office appears to be in rude health and on top of a difficult foreign policy agenda. At the other end, parts of the Home Office or HMRC seem to be struggling to cope with their basic tasks. The Department for Education is restructuring after looking at zero-based options. The Department of Health has reduced its size substantially at the same time as reforming the structures of the NHS. In many places there is still […]

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