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Government Departments: Best Practice

Volume 727: debated on Thursday 2 February 2023

Recording and building on best practice is vital to improving how government operates. That is a challenge in a complex digital world where information and data are created at unprecedented rates, but one that we need to get right. I assure my hon. Friend that the civil service is required to maintain records that can be used to spread best practice.

If we do not learn the lessons of history, we can end up repeating the mistakes of the past. Given that Ministers and senior officials in Departments are regularly changing posts, will the Government ensure that each Department has a corporate memory so that new Ministers and officials can see what worked and what did not, and what lessons were learned, to help us to have the most efficient government that we can have in this country?

My hon. Friend asks an excellent question. Under the civil service code, it is absolutely the case that proper records must be maintained so that people can learn from the past and pass that on, and I would always expect there to be professional handovers between teams. On his wider point, I am keen for civil servants to remain in post longer so that they can be judged on outcomes and have the time to follow through on projects, which is particularly important for senior responsible owners. There is also a role for departmental boards to be a repository of institutional knowledge and to ensure that that is communicated to new Ministers and officials as they come through.