Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

The work of the Civil Service inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published. Awaiting Government Response.

Due to the general election on 8 June 2017 the Committee has now closed this inquiry, Government responses to committee reports may be published in the next Parliament.

Report published

An in-depth consideration of the relationship between Ministers and civil servants is vital as Whitehall faces the challenges of leaving the EU – says the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in its report.

Scope of the inquiry

During the 2010–15 Parliament the Government introduced a programme of reform which aimed to make the Civil Service "more economic and provide faster services to the public". However, the outcome of the reforms fell short of expectations. Neither the first Civil Service Reform Plan nor its update attempted to base its proposals on any comprehensive analysis of why some things are successful and some things go wrong in government, and why the Civil Service appears unable to learn from success and failure. This was identified as a major failing in the Reform Plan by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) in its September 2013 report, "Truth to Power: how Civil Service reform can succeed". PASC built on this work in a report on "Developing Civil Service Skills: a unified approach". PACAC launches a further wide-ranging inquiry into the effectiveness of the Civil Service.

Inquiry focus

  • The structure and organisation of the Civil Service and how appropriate this is for the Twenty-First Century
  • The attitudes and behaviours that determine the effectiveness of the Civil Service in delivering Government policy and how well the Civil Service learns from success and failure
  • The Civil Service's collective capabilities and civil servants' individual skills, including its leadership and governance
Terms of reference: The work of the Civil Service


Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the inquiry on the work of the Civil Service.

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