2 Skills available within government |
8. The Cabinet Office is not doing enough to grow
government's core skills despite repeated recommendations by this
Committee in its reports in 2002 and 2007,
and despite the Cabinet Office's own study on using Consultants
in 1994. Since 2006,
the reliance on consultants in two key areas - ICT and programme
and project management - has increased from 50% to 60% of all
spend on consultancy.
The Civil Service fast stream programme is now being used to help
recruit people into these specialist areas, but it will take quite
a long time to develop people from entering the scheme to filling
Whilst departments endeavoured to fill senior management positions
with permanent staff, the Cabinet Office believes government is
at a competitive disadvantage as senior people can often earn
significantly more in the private sector.
The Cabinet Office told us that graduate recruitment was also
supplemented by hiring people directly with the skills required
and it had achieved good success at persuading people to swap
higher pay for the greater challenge of the public sector.
9. The Cabinet Office acknowledged that progress
in growing skills in these areas was not as fast as hoped because
departments find it difficult to persuade staff to stay in programme
and project management roles due to a preference for policy related
work. Similar programme
and project management roles in the private sector allow new recruits
to experience all aspects of the commercial and government sectors,
alongside relatively rapid career progression, hence making it
more difficult to attract these staff at junior levels into government.
10. The Cabinet Office does not have good data on
the experience of its key programme and project management staff,
including Senior Responsible Owners. This has limited its ability
to flexibly re-deploy people with these skills to the departments
and programmes where they are most needed.
In addition, people with these skills often don't spend long enough
in one post, or are moved to a job that doesn't use their skills.
The Cabinet Office explained that capability in programme and
project management is not necessarily just about technical qualifications.
It told us that government is trying to increase its ability to
redeploy staff across departments and slow down the movement of
skilled staff from one job to the next, in order to get maximum
use of the people it has internally.
11. There is expected to be a big dip in expenditure
on training and development due to the recent round of spending
cuts. The Cabinet
Office admitted that during a period of financial restraint, this
is one area likely to come under the most pressure. It explained
that there were many changes in government that are going through
the policy development stage. Once policies moved on to the implementation
stage there would likely be a resurgence in the use of consultants.
The Cabinet Office accepted that it seemed sensible that there
should be skills training prior to this phase to reduce the need
At the time of the hearing, it was carrying out a review of learning
and development to determine how much departments should invest
in training and how best to deliver it.
17 Q 1; Committee of Public Accounts Twenty-first Report
of Session 2001-02, Better value for money from professional
services, HC 309, conclusion 28; Committee of Public Accounts
Thirty-first Report of Session 2006-07, Central government's
use of consultants, HC 309, recommendation 7; Back
The Government's use of External Consultants: An Efficiency
Unit Scrutiny, Cabinet Office, 1994 Back
Qq 2 and 5: C&AG's Report, para 1.10 Back
Q 4 Back
Qq 59-62 Back
Q 131 Back
Q 99 Back
Q 59 Back
Qq 14 and 117 Back
Qq 99 and 100 Back
Q 119 Back
Q 51 and 100 Back
Qq 124 and 125 Back
Qq 48-51 Back
Q 125 Back
Q 124 Back