By Winnie Agbonlahor

21 Aug 2014

MPs are sceptical about the rush to appoint a CEO, reports Winnie Agbonlahor.

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood rejected suggestions that the decision to create a new chief executive role at the centre of government has “not been thought through” at a Political and Constitutional Reform Committee hearing on 17 July.

On 15 July, Number 10 announced that Heywood would formally be the new civil service head, after news of Sir Bob Kerslake’s departure was leaked to the media the previous evening. The government also revealed plans to appoint a new chief exec — probably from outside government — to lead civil service reform in the post of perm sec of the Cabinet Office (see other features). 

Heywood told the meeting that he had not agreed a detailed job description for the new role yet, and was hesitant about his own additional responsibilities: “I will probably take on the performance management of the permanent secretaries who I don’t currently performance-manage,” he said. “I will probably have some responsibility for senior talent management at the top of the civil service – but this is something to be worked through with the person who is appointed, through external competition, as the chief executive.” 

Committee member Chris Chope told Heywood that “we now have a situation where you have been appointed to an additional position without having a job description, because that has not been thought-through.” 

He asked whether it wouldn’t have been better “to set an example to other civil servants and other public servants, to think these things through”. 

Heywood responded: “No, I don’t really accept that at all. I think it has been thought through very carefully. It is just that the detail of the job description has not been finalised.”

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