4 July 2013

The picture remains grim for the British civil service. There will be another four years of austerity measures according to the Cabinet Secretary .  This seems to echo comments by his Minster in late June that the government needs to make additional cuts on top of the £5bn in efficiency savings already achieved. And Whitehall reforms need to be accelerated over the next year.

“We need to be honest about what needs to change,”  Mr Maude. the Cabinet Office Minister told a Civil Service Live conference. “There is no virtue in us being mealy-mouthed.”  He acknowledged a leadership failure in implementing the civil service reform plan and finding the resources it would take.  Despite his push for hard headed analysts, he conceded that he had misunderstood the need for generalists. He is now backpedalling on a mantra that “the age of the generalist is over”. Although he thought that the consolidation of the government legal service under the Treasury Solicitor and setting up the Government Digital Service were going well, it’s just pity that the majority of civil servants responding to a staff survey don’t agree – 52%  now feeling less supported than a few years ago.

In New Zealand the State Sector and Public Finance Reform Bill generated some excitement in Parliament with the Committee stages completed under urgency last night and this morning.  With Labour ACT and Dunn in support, there were no substantive challenges to the Government which seems to be making a better fist of changes to facilitate Better Public Services than the reforms in Britain. Perhaps Mr Maude needs to adopt  more moderate tone when speaking of State servants as both the Ministers of Justice and Economic Development  did at the Public Sector Excellence Awards last night, and as Amy Adams did today when chairing the House in Committee.