Change in Government: the agenda for leadership - Public Administration Committee Contents


108.  The challenges facing Whitehall will require a Civil Service reform programme more extensive in size and scope than attempted for many years. We have received little evidence that the Government is engaging with the factors that determine the success of such reform programmes, namely establishing the appropriate scope for change, setting clear objectives and timescales for reforms, and ensuring central coordination and political support. Most importantly, we have no sense of what the Government thinks a reformed Civil Service will look like. Without a clear set of objectives, Civil Service reform and, therefore, the wider public service reform programme will fail.

109.  Most Departments are aware of what they are seeking to achieve, but we have seen little evidence that many Departments have thought clearly about how they will make these changes or the nature of leadership required to implement them. We are concerned that any change to the Civil Service must overcome substantial inertia. A cultural change to accept new ideas, innovation, decentralisation, localism and the Big Society, necessary if these flagship government policies are to succeed, will only come with leadership and a clear plan.

110.  We consider that in preparing for the necessary reform there is no substitute for the development of a centre for the operation of Government which is truly world-class and properly equipped to support delivery departments throughout the reform process and beyond. The scale of the challenges faced by the Civil Service call for the establishment of such a corporate centre, headed by someone with the authority to insist on delivery across the Civil Service. We propose to return to this issue in any future examination of the role of the Head of the Home Civil Service.

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 22 September 2011