Press Notice 57, Session 2005-06

28 July 2006

PASC launches inquiry into civil service capability

PASC-the Public Administration Select Committee-is today launching an inquiry - ‘Skills for Government’-which examines the capability of the civil service to reform its role effectively. It will also look at the skills required by ministers.

The Committee will be asking whether the right mechanisms of recruitment, training and career development are in place. The effectiveness of the Cabinet Office fulfilling its core function of ‘Strengthening the Civil Service’ will also be considered. The inquiry follows PASC’s recent work on the way the relationship between politics and administration affects the design and delivery of modern public services.

In particular, the Inquiry will consider:

· Whether the first round of Capability Reviews carried out by the Cabinet Office been successful in identifying successes and failures within departments, and recommending action for change?

· If the right incentive structures and targeted performance management programmes exist to encourage a culture of excellence within the civil service?

· Whether the Civil Service recruitment strategy relates to the skills needed within the civil service?

· If leadership within the Civil Service is of particular importance and whether the current perceptions of a lack of leadership of particular concern?

· If the skills needed by ministers are being effectively cultivated?

An issues and questions paper, outlining the inquiry in more detail, is available on the Committee’s website at


The Committee is inviting written evidence from interested parties and will also hold evidence sessions to hear oral evidence from some of those who submit written evidence and from relevant officials.  The Issues and Questions paper can be found on the Committee website  Responses to the paper should be with the Committee by Friday 22nd September.  Some respondents may wish to concentrate on those issues in which they have a special interest, rather than necessarily answering all the questions.

Evidence submitted should:

· be submitted as hard copy on A4 paper and as an electronic file also, by email to, or on computer disk in Rich Text Format, ASCII, WordPerfect 8 or Word. Hard copies should be sent to Eve Samson, Clerk, Public Administration Select Committee, Committee Office, First Floor, Committee Office, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA;

· have a covering letter containing your full postal address and contact details;

· any memorandum of more than ten pages should begin with a one page summary;

· avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material;

· further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at

Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, either by printing the written evidence alongside the oral evidence or by making the evidence available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005.  Its terms of reference are to examine the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsmen, and to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments, and other matters relating to the Civil Service. The Membership of the Committee is as follows:  Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Grant Shapps (Con) (Welwyn Hatfield), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, 020 7219 0724/07917 488 447, email -

Chairman: Dr Tony Wright may be contacted for press inquiries on 020 7219 5583

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