Maude reforming appraisals to give ministers more leverage

Secretaries of state are to be given direct input into senior civil service appraisals so that ministers don’t suspect civil servants of feeling they can “pick and choose” which coalition policies they implement, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has told Civil Service World.

By Joshua.Chambers

08 Aug 2012

The move was not in the Civil Service Reform Plan published in June, and came as a surprise to the mainstream press when Maude announced it to the House of Lords Constitution Committee last month. In fact, CSW reported the plans on 27 June, explaining that head of the civil service Sir Bob Kerslake had said that permanent secretaries would have to agree their annual objectives with ministers and that “in future they’ll be published, with performance reviewed by secretaries of state every six months.”

Speaking to CSW on Monday, Maude went further still – backing ministers’ right to “an automatic, formal process whereby their input is sought” into the appraisals of all those civil servants “who interact with ministers, whose work ministers see, or who are managing big projects or programmes that ministers have oversight of.” Such a process is “key to accountability,” he argued.

Maude said that the move is intended to ensure that civil servants don’t “pick and choose which bits of the government programme they implement.”

Asked whether that was happening in some cases, he said: “Certainly some ministers felt that it was, yes.”

“Are there ministers frustrated that what they’ve decided doesn’t always happen? Yes, absolutely,” he added. Asked whether this will change that, he said: “It will help. It’s all about what the stimuli are.”

Asked why the reform wasn’t in the plan, Maude said: “We’d assumed that this is what happened [in every department], and then it was discovered that it wasn’t happening automatically and so we felt that it should be incorporated.”

Maude had told the House of Lords Constitution Committee that this happens on an informal basis in some departments but hasn’t been mandatory. “It didn’t happen in the Cabinet Office, and that surprised me,” he told CSW. “That’s why we all thought it was sensible to incorporate this as a formal part of the process.”

Maude claimed that “the view of the leadership of the civil service was: ‘Yes, of course it should happen as a matter of course,’ and that’s why we’re dealing with it now.”

Asked whether civil servants should anticipate further changes not set out in the reform plan, he said: “We absolutely said from the outset that this is not a finished product; this is not the end of civil service reform for all time. The idea that you achieve a state of perfection and then manage steady state is long gone.”

Also read Maude on policy outsourcing

Read the most recent articles written by Joshua.Chambers - Interview: Alison Munro


Share this page