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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Whitehall needs skills revamp or reform will fail, warns report

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Whitehall must build up its specialist expertise in outsourcing, contract management and procurement or the coalition Government's hopes of ambitious civil service reform will founder, according to MPs.

The recommendation is contained in a new Commons Public Administration Select Committee report entitled 'Change in Government: the agenda for leadership', which accuses the Government of lacking both that leadership and a central plan for revamping the civil service.
 
"There is a wealth of evidence in Whitehall that Departments lack expertise and specialist knowledge and the confidence to make decisions and implement them quickly. Departmental silos remain a constant concern, along with a risk-averse culture and bureaucratic inertia," the study warned. 
 
To create a "world-class centre of Government," change must be led by someone with the authority to insist that it happened across Whitehall. As a result, the Government needed to come up with a comprehensive change programme that clearly articulated what the civil service was for, how it had to change and in what timescales, which should, in turn, be broken down into key milestones.
 
"The Government's change agenda will fail without such a plan," the Committee warned.
 
Graham Kemp, head of business intelligence software supplier SAS UK's public sector unit, said: "The current institutional inertia highlighted by the Public Administration Select Committee means that too much time and money is spent taking corrective action, when a more effective approach would be to predict where change is needed and invest accordingly."
 
For Whitehall to deliver on its ambitious revamp, it needed to integrate data from across government, he added. "By freeing data from Departmental silos, not only can Departments learn from each other more easily, but more informed decisions can be taken to help plan for the future," Kemp said.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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