Skip to main content

Civil Service Reform

Volume 566: debated on Wednesday 10 July 2013

In June 2012 Sir Bob Kerslake and I published the civil service reform plan. Today we are publishing a report on civil service reform one year on.

The plan set out a series of actions which, fully implemented, would deliver a civil service that is smaller, flatter, and faster; more digital, more unified, focused on outcomes not process; more capable, with better performance management; with modern terms and conditions, and more accountable for delivery. Progress in implementing these actions has been mixed.

The civil service today is 15% smaller than in 2010, and productivity is correspondingly higher. Some of the actions in the plan could not have been expected to be complete in 12 months. On others, substantial progress has been achieved. But on too many actions too little of what was set out to be delivered by this point has been fully executed. We are determined that the pace of implementation will now accelerate.

I said in June 2012 that the plan was not the last word in reform. I set out today some further reform actions. We will introduce five-year fixed-term tenure for permanent secretaries. We will enable Ministers in charge of Departments to appoint personally an extended ministerial office (EMO) including career civil servants, civil servants recruited externally on fixed-term appointment (according to Civil Service Commission guidance and subject to the civil service code), and special advisers. IPPR concluded in their report which I published last month that Ministers in Britain received much less direct support than Ministers in countries with systems similar to ours. We will strengthen the corporate leadership of cross-Government functional services, including HR, procurement and commercial, IT and digital, legal and finance. We will make changes to improve further the delivery of major projects.

Fuller details are set out in the “One Year On” report, which I am placing in the Library.