Report recommends changes to government capability reviews

Changes to in-depth reviews of the performance of government departments must be made to ensure they make a lasting impact, a review has recommended.

An evaluation of the capability review programme by the National School of Government’s Sunningdale Institute found that the Civil Service should be moving towards a culture of ‘dynamic capability’, with reviews tailored to individual departments, and more resources devoted to ensuring that they deliver change.

Capability reviews are part of a wider reform agenda to deliver improved public services.

Several reviews have highlighted poor people management and inadequate HR provision at the heart of government failings.

The report was commissioned by the Civil Service Steering Board -the cross-cutting governing body of the Civil Service – to evaluate what went well, what did not, and to suggest what the future direction of the programme should be.

A team of five leading business professors undertook the review.

Professor Sue Richards, director of the Sunningdale Institute, said: “Capability reviews have made a good start as a corporate change initiative, better than previous attempts by quite a long way.

“But the next stages are critical: what needs to be done to sustain the momentum that has been created – to prevent ‘tail-off’ and what needs to be done to create a real step change in the way the Civil Service operates.”

The review acknowledged that the 15 government departments that have gone through the initial reviews are actively delivering changes.

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