The new government in May will face big challenges. They will want to deliver on manifesto promises – ranging from large infrastructure projects like HS2, to reforming public services like the NHS, to building more homes – while improving the day-to-day workings of government to ensure money isn’t wasted. Doing this is not straightforward. Governments past and present have struggled to achieve the change they want. Tony Blair complained of “scars on my back” – and David Cameron has grumbled about the “buggeration factor” of getting things done in government. Many of the issues which make getting things done harder across departments – like the historic weaknesses in commercial or finance skills, or the new ways of working caused by decentralisation or digital technology – can only be addressed on a cross-departmental basis rather than inside department silos. There has been real progress on this over the past five years. New initiatives like the Civil Service Capability Plan, the Financial Management Review, and the Twelve Actions to Improve Policymaking have all led to action on professional skills in Whitehall. The Major Projects Authority has enhanced Whitehall’s ability to make sure projects stay on track. Spending controls have helped cut waste, […]

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