Bad management in civil service responsible for failures

The civil service is poorly managed and in desperate need of reform, a major report has claimed.

Whitehall’s bureaucrats are responsible for the “systemic failure” of the government, the Institute for Public Policy Research paper published today argues.

The paper suggests that ministers are frustrated with civil service performance which “ducks accountability”.

The prime minister acknowledged recently that there had been “systemic failure, over a very long period” at the Home Office, while weaknesses in financial accounting in the NHS have flagged up long-standing problems with civil service accountability for delivery.

“Events in recent weeks have exposed significant weaknesses in the way Whitehall operates,” said Nick Pearce, the Institute for Public Policy Research’s director.

“Rather than thinking that these can be resolved by moving ministers or restructuring departments, the government needs to recognise that lasting change will only be achieved through civil service reform.”

The Institute for Public Policy Research study, which calls for a “coherent reform strategy” for the civil service, was the culmination of a year-long research period in which 30 senior civil servants, 10 permanent secretaries and eight ministers were interviewed. Its final report will be published in July.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the largest civil service union, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said: “We hope the Institute for Public Policy Research’s report will consider the impact that the government’s programmes of creeping privatisation and massive civil service job cuts are having on civil service delivery.”

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