Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Mr Mike Granatt CB, Head of the Government Information Service (GI 4)

  At my appearance before the Committee on Thursday 28th February I promised you further figures on the GICS.

  You asked about numbers in the DTLR operation. As of 28th February there were 63 GICS members in the Communication Directorate of which 31 were working in the Press Office. There are other non-GICS staff. These figures have been supplied by DTLR and if you have any further detailed points they would be best addressed to the department directly.

  The figures that we have on the GICS which are published in our annual report are compiled from individual members' returns. This is done on a voluntary basis and so the figures provide a "snapshot" view of the GICS at a particular point in time. The picture is constantly changing as people move jobs between departments and disciplines and in and out of the Service. These figures do not reflect the total number of staff working in communication directorates which are made up of a mixture of GICS and policy staff.

  You were particularly interested in turnover rates. In 2000 42 people left and last year this reduced to 36. I must stress that these are estimated figures. Unfortunately, when people leave they often neglect to tell us and there is no formal notification process from Departments.

  On looking at the transcript of the subsequent session I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce a couple of aspects of my evidence.

  Firstly, on the number of special advisers working on media liaison and presentation; my estimate of about 40 was just what I said it was - a guess. Some special advisers work on policy areas; others advise on presentational strategy and planning; some work directly with the media; some will do all these. It would be wrong to infer from "my guess" that half the special advisers are engaged full time in talking to journalists.

  You will know that the Committee has received a letter from Charlotte Morgan, a DTLR GICS member who is now on secondment to Brussels. Charlotte has worked very hard to get her current posting, which is an excellent development opportunity. Yet despite her hard work her move has become linked in the media to the events at DTLR. Unfortunately, this has been the case with a number of our movers and leavers although to date it has generally occurred at a more senior level.

  Since 1997 people have moved for a variety of reasons. We have always said that "personal chemistry" was an issue in some cases but this is not peculiar to the Information Service. Others simply retired and many moved onto better jobs.

  To spell it out, at least half of the 19 moves cited by some commentators as forced in some way were nothing of the sort. Therefore, the inference that all such moves are a result of a "breakdown" of some sort is a disservice to many individuals and the GICS as a whole.

March 2002

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