Top Civil Service HR role could be opened up to all

The most senior HR professional in the Civil Service is set to retire, prompting speculation that her replacement could be recruited from outside the service for the first time.

Alice Perkins, director general of the Corporate Development Group at the Cabinet Office, will retire from her post at the end of September.

The Corporate Development Group is responsible for all corporate Civil Service people issues, including training and development and Civil Service reform.

The post has traditionally been filled by career civil servants, but a senior HR source in the government told Personnel Today that a replacement could be sought from across the HR industry.

“If we are going to have a person in charge of HR, then they should have to be able to demonstrate they can do the job,” the source said.

However, the source warned that the new recruit will need to have the ‘certain qualities’ that would enable them to effectively deal with difficult permanent secretaries.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said a final decision would be made on the scope of the recruitment process after consultation with the new Cabinet Office secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell.

O’Donnell took up the post of Cabinet secretary at the start of this month.

Perkins joined the Civil Service in 1971 and has worked for the Department of Health, the Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

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