The news that government is considering restructuring as one solution to the current spending squeeze is not surprising. Mergers are often sought as a solution to crises in both the public and private sector, and secretaries of state will have to consider all options if they are to respond to George Osborne’s recent request to show how their department will make savings of 25 or 40 percent. Many argue that such changes are a no-brainer. Departmental abolitions and mergers have been advocated by the IEA, commentators of all political stripes, and earlier this week by a report from the Westminster Policy Institute, which proposed that four departments (BIS, DEFRA, DECC and the Department for Transport) “should be merged into a single new department to create a streamlined national infrastructure function”. Mergers and restructuring can work, of course. Our recent research on restructuring Whitehall found several examples of changes that lasted and are seen by most involved in the process to have had significant benefits. Relative success include the creation of the Department of Work and Pensions, which helped join up services to the unemployed through job centres, and the creation of the Department for International Development, which brought focus to […]

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