By CivilServiceWorld

10 Dec 2010

Second permanent secretary, HM Treasury

In a year of political and economic change, what was your highlight of 2010?
Well, the year’s not over yet and, given the speed with which markets have been moving, it could yet have a few surprises in store for us. I wouldn’t call it a highlight, but a dominant theme has been the long, tough struggle – right across the world – to deal with the economic and financial imbalances that built up over the last 10 years. We’ve seen that in the UK, with the Budget and the spending review; globally, with reform of the banking system and a lively debate on exchange rates; and of course in Europe, as the EU tries to deal with excessive debt and weak growth in a number of countries.

What is the biggest opportunity that coalition policies have created for the civil service?
Any change of government is both a challenge and an opportunity for the civil service, and this year’s was no exception. The challenge has been to win the trust and respect of the newly-elected government, and help them to implement their programme. The opportunity is to demonstrate the competence and professionalism of the civil service, and our core values of honesty, integrity and impartiality.

What is the most challenging management task facing the civil service now?
Reducing public expenditure and administration costs, while sustaining high-quality public services and delivering an excellent service to ministers and the country at large. In the Treasury we’ll be reducing our staff numbers by a quarter, and our budget by a third. Doing that successfully is a top priority.

And what’s the key to succeeding in that task?
Communication, openness, flexibility and leadership.

What was the best Christmas present that you’ve ever given or received? And the worst?
The worst: Korea going bust on 24th December 1997. The best: nothing quite as bad happening in December 2008 or 2009.

Read the most recent articles written by CivilServiceWorld - Bid to block whistleblower’s access to ministers


Share this page