Government response on Civil Service Reform

16 January 2012

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) publishes the Government response to its major report Change in Government: the agenda for leadership, in which it made substantial recommendations for the management of Civil Service reform. The Government has also responded to the Committee’s further report on Smaller Government: What do Ministers Do?, in which it called on the Government to undertake a fresh review of Ministerial numbers by the mid-point of the present Parliament.

The Government response to the Committee’s recommendations on Civil Service reform is largely positive. PASC welcomes the Government’s commitment to constructive change of the culture in the Civil Service. The Committee is particularly pleased to note the Government’s commitment to produce an outline programme setting out priority areas for cross-Civil Service reform by the spring of 2012: PASC had warned that without a clear plan for reform of the Civil Service, the Government’s agenda for change in public services would fail.

In its response the Government also accepts in principle that Ministerial numbers must be reviewed in proportion to the size of the House of Commons.

Committee Chair Bernard Jenkin said:

“PASC welcomes much of the Government response, which represents a constructive approach to the major recommendations on Civil Service reform set out in our report on Change in Government: the agenda for leadership. We welcome the commitment to publication of an outline programme for Civil Service reform, something the Committee has consistently advocated. I am encouraged by Francis Maude’s vision of a changed culture in the Civil Service and a massive upgrade in key skills such as project, programme and contract management.

We are delighted to note that, following the recommendations of our earlier report on Ministerial numbers, the Government now accepts the principle that the number of Ministers must be reviewed when the House of Commons is reduced from 650 to 600 seats in 2015. The Government tells us that the number of ministers is under constant review: no doubt work is in hand to prepare for the time when Ministers, like the rest of us, will have to do more with less.” 

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