Senior civil servants

Posted on: January 7th, 2015

In its latest report the Better Government Initiative recommends that five key steps should be taken to overcome serious deficiencies in the deployment and development of senior civil servants:
• first to ensure that the newly appointed CEO for the civil service, who reports directly to the Head of the Civil Service/Cabinet Secretary, is formally designated as the Head of Human Resources for the civil service;
• second to vest in him the explicit responsibility for operating a succession planning system for the senior civil service based on the fundamental principle that the interests of the government and the civil service as a whole outweigh those of individuals and departments;
• third to revisit the approach to filling senior appointments to reflect key lessons from best practice in the highest-performing private sector firms, both in the UK and elsewhere;
• fourth for the Prime Minister to explicitly seek the commitment of both individual secretaries of state and, crucially, of the lead non-executive directors in departments, to the successful implementation and operation of these arrangements, and for the Head of the Civil Service to hold departmental Permanent Secretaries to account accordingly;
• finally, and in parallel, to set out a clear expectation that senior individuals will remain in post long enough to see through key policies and programmes and will only in exceptional circumstances be moved, or allowed to move, before these are delivered.