Strategic thinking in Government: without National Strategy, can viable Government strategy emerge? - Public Administration Committee Contents

7  Conclusion

126.  We remain concerned at the absence of National Strategy at the heart of Government. We are not calling for the Government to set out a five or ten year plan, detailing policy commitments, but for a recognition that the Government requires a strategic approach that emphasises the development of capability, both to set achievable and meaningful long term aims, and to respond rapidly and effectively to unforeseen challenges and opportunities. Without it, policy failures will undermine not only public confidence in the ability of Governments to deliver a positive outcome, but will also undermine confidence in our national beliefs and our will to survive as a nation.

127.  There are considerable barriers to more effective strategic thinking in Government. We found that scientific advice is essential in strategic thought, but must be balanced against an acceptance of uncertainty and a flexible capability to respond to this. The machinery of government and budgetary allocations by department promote silos in government. There is a lack of demand from Ministers for strategic thinking from the Civil Service, and as a result this vital capacity is undervalued and neglected.

128.  The strategic aims of the Government, informed by public opinion, should drive every policy decision and align them with tax and spending decisions. A focus on working strategically, driven by a strong centre of Government across departmental silos, will provide the Government with the capacity to deal with current issues, and the resilience and adaptability to react to the unknown, unpredictable problems of the future. Successful National Strategy will reinforce public confidence in national values and aspirations, and strengthen our sense of national identity and purpose.

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Prepared 24 April 2012