Public Administration Select Committee: Inquiry

Outsiders and Insiders: External Appointments to the Senior Civil Service

Current Status: Report published, Further Report incorporating Government Response published

Link to Further Report

Link to Report


Committee recommends scaling back external recruitment to the senior civil service

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) published a report on 2 February 2010 examining the practice of recruiting externally to the senior civil service (SCS). Outside recruitment has been used to fill skills shortages and to bring new perspectives to government, but has also been criticised for potentially diluting core civil service values and for being poor value for money.

PASC concludes that the senior civil service has depended too heavily on external recruitment in recent years, and should now take steps to reduce its reliance on outside appointments. PASC also found that external recruits do not appear to perform better than career civil servants€”despite being paid more, on average€”and many leave civil service employment relatively quickly. Nonetheless, given the existence of skills gaps and the other benefits that external recruits can bring, PASC believes that there will continue to be a place for outside appointments in civil service recruitment.

PASC further concludes that the extent of recent external recruitment is symptomatic of a wider concern: the ability of the civil service to identify its current and future skills needs, and to plan effectively to meet those needs. PASC recommends that the emphasis of civil service employment policy should be on developing its own people and skills, rather than seeking to draw these in from outside.

Tony Wright MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"We have a permanent civil service, but increasingly it is not made up entirely of permanent civil servants. External appointments at senior levels of the civil service have been contentious for some time now, not least because external candidates have generally been paid substantially more than internal ones. We did not find evidence that outside recruits have drastically changed the nature and ethos of the senior civil service, but equally there is a lack of performance data to support the claim that they are good value for money.

"We conclude that government needs to redress the balance by focusing on developing talent among its own people, rather than relying on importing it from outside. Government should draw up and publish a civil service workforce plan that shows it is identifying its skills needs and how it plans to grow its own talent to meet those needs in the future."

Written evidence:

Minutes of evidence taken by the Committee:

Thursday 12 May 2009: Corrected transcript
Witnesses: Sir David Normington KCB, David Bell and Gill Rider

Thursday 5 March 2009: Corrected transcript
Witnesses: Janet Paraskeva and Richard Jarvis

Press Notice:

26 February 2009: PASC launches inquiry into Outside Appointments to the Senior Civil Service

2 March 2009: PASC to question Janet Paraskeva on Whitehall Leaks and Outside Appointments to the Civil Service

9 March 2009: PASC to question Civil Service Unions on Whitehall leaks and two new inquiries.

Last updated: 19 May 2009