Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Committee hands out 'end of term' reports to Whitehall Departments

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) is publishing an evaluation of Whitehall departments’ plans for structural change in response to the twin challenges of major public service reform and significantly reduced administrative budgets.

The committee expresses concern that the centre of Government, notably the Treasury and the Cabinet Office, is providing neither strategic leadership nor a governance framework to departments in managing their change programmes.

Mr Bernard Jenkin MP Chair of PASC said:

"The Prime Minister said a year ago that he planned to 'turn government on its head'. As part of our ongoing Good Governance inquiry we wanted to see how each department is managing corporate change. 

Unfortunately, two departments failed to 'hand in their homework' and contribute to this evaluation, but our analysis shows that departments face major challenges; reducing costs, downsizing and reforming. The quality of leadership and management, within departments, and across government, is critical to the success of their change programmes.

The lack of coordination from the Cabinet Office and the Treasury is very concerning. Good governance at the centre of Whitehall is crucial to ensure best practice is shared and change is implemented quickly and effectively across the whole of Government."

PASC has been inquiring into good governance and civil service reform. As part of that inquiry the Committee asked all permanent secretaries for details of their internal change programmes. It commissioned its specialist adviser, Professor Andrew Kakabadse of Cranfield University, to undertake an evaluation of those plans.

Professor Kakabadse said:

"Under the present testing conditions, reliance on outstanding leadership from each Department is insufficient. Engaging governance and stewardship from the heart of Government is also required but seemingly absent.

The demand is immediate for an all encompassing strategic approach to change, minimising disaggregation and ensuring a 'joined up Government' approach."