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Institute for Government: Lord Heseltine is right - Whitehall must grip management and performance information
Lord Heseltine has offered a characteristically ambitious and thought provoking plan for pursuing growth and wealth creation. His report stresses that to implement his ideas, further reform in central government is necessary. This involves improving ‘monitoring and accountability’, underpinned by 'a Whitehall management information system' encompassing performance and financial data. These views are in line with Institute for Government research. As we argued in See-Through Whitehall, the government's business plan regime needs substantial reform if it is to serve any of its potential purposes. Improving Decision Making in Whitehall showed that clearer responsibilities, starting at the top of the civil service, are necessary to secure a lasting commitment to the use of management information to improve decision making. And our open letter on civil service reform emphasised the need for greater clarity in the accountability of civil servants and ministers. Our report on accountability in mid-November will look at the lessons the UK could learn from Australia and New Zealand.
On the back of Lord Heseltine's report, the government should put in place a permanent structure for performance management in Whitehall, which is capable of sustaining cross party support. Lord Heseltine’s emphasis on ending ‘the cyclical changes of government architecture and systems that frustrates the business community’ echoes our longstanding views.