Gove’s Radical Civil Service Reforms Unveiled

The Cabinet Office has today unveiled a series of radical civil service reform proposals, many of which still have Dominic Cummings’s scent lingering over them. Among new recruitment and training-focused reforms – such as a new commitment to basing 50% of senior roles outside London by 2030 – they also want mandarins to get training in digital and data, with a much larger emphasis on science. Cummings’s ARPA project should be up and running soon…

Co-conspirators will revel at the news that senior officials will also have their pay linked to results from now on, something Guido has heard before, dependent on meeting targets as well as demonstrating wider performance. They will also note the government’s ambition of improving hiring based on “diversity of opinion” as well as backgrounds. Previous incentivisation plans have resulted in bonuses all round for everyone as a matter of course, with no commensurate improvement in results – all carrots and no stick. Gove’s recommendations don’t mention firing for failure…

Read the main reforms from the report below:

People

  1. 50% of senior roles will be based outside capital by 2030
  2. Creation of a new physical training campus
  3. Bolster traditional writing skills, as well as understanding statistical concepts and developing expertise in digital, data, science and commercial delivery
  4. They will use outside secondees to “challenge conventional thinking”, and require “radical alternatives” to police options to be presented
  5. Reduce the number of people needed to make decisions
  6. Introduce pay-by-results for senior civil servants, linking rewards and bonuses to meeting targets and demonstrating wider performance
  7. When recruiting they will champion diversity of opinion as well as backgrounds.

Performance

  1. Improve department accountability, setting up a new Evaluation Task Force “to act as an in-house scrutineer” of both value for money and effectiveness against published ambitions
  2. Improve cross-government functions
  3. Draw on Covid to “put data at the heart of our decision-making”
  4. Expect officials to ask “how can science help” when approaching problems
  5. Replace legacy IT systems

Partnership

  1. Improve collaboration between ministers and officials
  2. Improve clarity of roles, responsibilities and accountability of ministers and senior officials
  3. Bolster relations and collaboration between leaders from sectors outside the civil service
  4. New “extraordinary Cabinet meetings” will be held once a year, bringing together the Cabinet and departmental Permanent Secretaries to review progress
mdi-tag-outline Civil Service
mdi-account-multiple-outline Michael Gove
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