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

Appendix 1: Letter from Mr Bernard Jenkin MP to all Permanent Secretaries, April 2011

As part of its ambition to bring about a "Big Society" the Government has set out a reform agenda involving greater decentralisation of power and enhanced social action at local levels alongside proposals for considerable reform of public services.

At the same time the Spending Review commits the Government to a large reduction in departmental administration costs by an average of a third.

Except for a fundamental review of arms length bodies the machinery of government has been left largely unchanged. However, the need for profound changes to the size and role of the Civil Service appear implicit in the Government's ideas for a Big Society and as a consequence of spending reductions.

As part of its inquiry into good governance and civil service reform the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) would like to obtain a better understanding of the changes which are facing departments at present and how they plan to meet them. In particular it would like to know:

  • What impact, if any, are the reforms envisaged in the Government's 'Big Society agenda' likely to have on the way your department is organised and operates?

If there are no consequences for your department organisational structure as a consequence of the Big Society agenda please explain why this is the case.

  • What structural reforms, if any, will be required in your department as a result of the reductions in running costs arising from the Spending Review?

If no structural change is required, what action are you taking to achieve the required reduction in administrative budgets?

  • How do you intend to implement these changes? Do you have a formal plan in place, and if so what are its objectives, and timelines?
  • What consideration has been given to retaining or acquiring those skill sets—for example (i) expertise in contracting and commissioning or (ii) facilitating community leadership and social action—necessary to deliver the Government's reform plans?
  • What lessons do you draw from previous reforms either within your department, from other departments, or from other organisations outside central government?
  • Does your reform process involve other government departments or public bodies?

The inquiry is coming towards its concluding stages and I look forward to receiving your responses by the 13 May to enable us to finalise our Report.

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 22 September 2011