Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by The Centre for Management and Policy Studies


  1.  The Centre for Management and Policy Studies, which incorporates the Civil Service College as a Directorate, was established in June 1999 in order to:

    (i)  ensure that the Civil Service is cultivating the right skills, culture and approaches to perform its task;

    (ii)  ensure that policy makers across government have access to the best research, evidence and international experience; and

    (iii)  help government to learn better from existing policies.

  2.  Our work focuses on three core areas of activity:

    (i)  developing and encouraging an approach to policy making which draws on evidence and rises above departmental boundaries;

    (ii)  evaluating new approaches to policy making and identifying and promoting best practice, inside and outside the Civil Service, in the UK and internationally; and

    (iii)  the training and development of Ministers and civil servants based on leading edge thinking.

  3.  These areas of activity are closely related. For example, the development of new approaches to policy making and the accumulation of best practice feed into our training programmes (with some 35,000 customers expected this year). The reflections and suggestions of those who are taking part in training programmes are fed upwards into new and improved forms of management and policy making. In these ways, we play an important role in helping the Civil Service to draw upon the breadth of its talent and experience.

  4.  Although the main focus of our work is the Civil Service itself, we also aim to influence the quality of management and decision-making across the whole public sector. We need strategic partnerships with a range of key public sector organisations to help us in this role. CMPS will always be a small organisation in relation to the size of its task: partnership and networking will always, as a result, be a central feature of our work.


  5.  CMPS is organised around three main Directorates:

    (i)  Corporate Development and Training Directorate (CDT) is responsible for the main corporate development programmes used for training present and future leaders of the Civil Service, and for organising high level seminars which bring together Ministers, civil servants and senior figures from outside government. It is also responsible for a programme of Departmental peer review.

    (ii)  The Civil Service College Directorate (CSC) provides training and development for civil servants and their international counterparts. At home, the College's products, which are offered in a competitive market, take the form of open programmes and events tailored to meet the needs of customer organisations. Internationally, the College provides assistance to emerging democracies and transition states.

    (iii)  Policy Studies Directorate (PSD) is a centre of expertise, advice and information to support excellence in policy making at all stages, from formulation to evaluation. Drawing on the latest developments in IT and knowledge management and experience in the UK and abroad, PSD seeks to encourage and actively promote the best in policy development and review and, in particular, an evidence-based, cross-cutting approach.

  6.  Although a broad division of labour is evident, each Directorate is involved to a greater or lesser extent in all three aspects of our core mission. This means that all Directorates have to work closely together in a flexible and co-operative way. To assist that process, we have created a Business and Resources Directorate (BRD) as a lean central resource designed to knit together the work of the different Directorates into a coherent business strategy, and to project CMPS as a whole to our external stakeholders and customers.


  7.  Taking each Directorate in turn, the main thrust of its activities, the way in which it contributes to the process of modernisation, and its key priorities in CMPS's Business Plan for 2000-2001 are the following:


  The focus is on developing sustained cultural change, better leadership and more effective government. Priorities in the current Business Plan include:

    (i)  The re-design and re-launch of the entire suite of corporate training programmes for members of the Senior Civil Service, doubling access and attuning training to key stages in an individual's career. The emphasis is on practical leadership responses to real issues, and learning from peers in the public and private sectors.

    (ii)  Developing a comprehensive programme of learning for Ministers, including induction workshops for new appointees, regular monthly seminars for junior Ministers and events focusing on particular topics relevant to Minister's leadership roles.

    (iii)  Designing and delivering a rolling programme of Departmental Peer Reviews, in which Departments learn from a constructive examination of their business by a group of independent peers; and disseminating the key learning points.

    (iv)  Organising a programme of high level joint seminars for Ministers and senior officials, focusing on key aspects of policy making.


  The focus is on training designed to support modernisation at home and abroad. Priorities in the current Business Plan include:

    (i)  The design and delivery of a new and ambitious range of training, which supports the "Modernising Government" reform agenda in priority areas such as leadership, project management, business planning and diversity.

    (ii)  Making systematic use of the results of research and data on best practice, and feeding them in to the design of high quality training products.

    (iii)  Greater use of the Internet in delivering training to customers, and following up regularly in order to encourage feedback and more continuous learning.

    (iv)  Working in accession states in support of the necessary skills development for civil servants commensurate with membership of the European Union.


  The focus is encouraging and sharing information about new approaches to policy making. Priorities in the current Business Plan include:

    (i)  Encouraging an approach to the use of analytical evidence which cuts across Departmental boundaries, through the co-ordination of Departmental initiatives, the development of Knowledge Pools and the establishment of a central information unit to bring together analytical evidence from the UK and across the world.

    (ii)  The development of a programme of research and fellowships to evaluate new approaches to policy making and to examine the policy process; and to identify and promote best practice through the most effective means.

    (iii)  Working with evaluators within and outside government to establish, for the civil service, a centre of expertise and advice in policy evaluation; conducting a programme of reviews.

    (iv)  Advising overseas governments and individuals on UK public sector reform and arranging itineraries for visitors to the Cabinet Office.


  11.  CMPS is funded as a net sub-head of the Cabinet Office vote and has its own Accounting Officer, the Director General, who reports annually to Parliament. Compared to other parts of the Cabinet Office, we are unusual in that over 80 per cent of our budget comes from earned income from training and similar events. The financial targets for CMPS are therefore expressed in net cost terms, as our 2000-01 plan indicates:

Net Cost
CMPS Total

  (figures are given in £000s.)

  12.  CMPS currently has some 350 staff, of whom the majority are based in the Civil Service College Directorate in Sunningdale.


December 2000

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