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Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence



MEMORANDUM BY DAVID WALKER

GOVERNMENT EFFECTIVENESS

THE THRUST OF MY ARGUMENT WOULD BE:

  1.  Service delivery is a government priority but:

    (a)  most delivery is local;

    (b)  the civil service surrounding ministers is not attuned to delivery; and

    (c)  the political and administrative exigencies of "departments" stops government working effectively.

  2.  Because central government distrusts elected councils it has constructed a series of ad hoc mechanisms to deliver its new initiatives, in child care, urban regeneration, training, schooling etc. The map of service delivery locally has become complicated, making accounting and accountability more difficult.

  3.  The Whitehall civil service, as at present constituted, brings little to this party. Traditional tools such as audit and inspection have become hypertrophied.

  4.  The (Labour) government needs to think afresh.

  5.  It might consider:

    —  reconstituting the civil service and local government staffing as a single "public service" with common training and professional development;

    —  a new culture of central-local relationships which recognises that elected local government has had its day as a service provider with any claims to autonomy; and

    —  a major overhaul of the centre, recognising that departmentalism is the enemy of effective delivery.

13 December 2000

 


 
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