“In a time of austerity, we can’t afford to allow ministers or civil servants to foist costly and ill-prepared policies and laws onto the public which then fail to achieve their objectives,” said Sir Christopher Foster, chair of the BGI – a group of retired senior public officials.
The report calls for “explicit standards for the preparation of new policies”, and for an agreement to be reached between Parliament and government on their content, implementation, and monitoring.
The BGI also said that policy impact assessments are currently “a bureaucratic cottage industry, turning out documents of little value that conform to the letter of the rules but add little or nothing to the understanding of the issues”. It called for the Treasury to be given responsibility for quality-checking these assessments, and for it to publish its opinion alongside any legislation when it enters Parliament.
There needs to be stronger collective leadership of the coalition, the report also said: “On a number of occasions, ministers of one party or another have floated publicly proposals not cleared with their colleagues, only to have them repudiated by the other party.”