Civil service to bust pay cap in recruiting top professionals

The government will actively recruit civil servants and consultants who will be paid more than the prime minister in order to plug talent shortages, despite the current pay and consultancy restrictions, Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service, told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week.

By Civil Service World

26 Apr 2013

Referring to large procurement projects, PAC chair Margaret Hodge asked Kerslake: “Are you now actively recruiting people who are actually going to be paid well in excess of what the prime minister earns, so that they can do this sort of job? Are you actively recruiting now?”

Kerslake responded: “We will recruit them. ‘Yes’ is the short answer,” adding: “Where we are doing a major procurement process and there is risk involved, we will procure people with expertise.”

Asked whether these people would be hired as consultants, Kerslake responded “as either secondments into the civil service or consultants, if that’s what it requires – one or the other, really, but one way or another.”

Since 2010, departments have had to seek special permission from the Treasury to pay anyone more than the PM draws. They also have to seek permission from the Cabinet Office to hire consultants.

Kerslake was asked to grade departments’ performance against the Civil Service Reform Plan. He praised the Ministry of Justice and HMRC for their digital work, and said that “a lot of effort has gone on in [the Department of Work and Pensions] to strengthen its programme on project management.” Kerslake also praised the communities department, which he runs, for implementing a new performance management system.

However, he said that the culture department “has made less progress than others” in improving its management information, because it has so many non-departmental public bodies. Kerslake added that his own department has “made less progress on the task of establishing a way of balancing resources to workload and developing a system to do that.”

Permanent secretaries are currently being appraised against their objectives, Kerslake revealed. He also said that “we will have a much more comprehensive process this year in terms of end-year reviews.” Lead non-executives of departments will also give feedback on performance for the first time.

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