SROs given flexibility for select committee hearings

Civil servants responsible for running major projects will be able to tell parliament when ministers directed them to make particular decisions, under proposals published by the government.

By Suzannah.Brecknell

08 Jul 2014

Speaking at an Institute for Government earlier this month, international development permanent secretary Mark Lowcock (pictured above left) said government has now published the proposals which will make senior responsible officers (SROs) "liable to be invited to parliament to explain progress with projects" - state that officials will "be allowed to say if they did something because a minister asked them to make a change.”

There is normally a “veil of opaqueness on exactly how decisions are made on public policy areas,” said Lowcock, but the proposals aim to open this veil slightly “in respect of decisions on the implementation of approved projects”.

This, he said, should clarify accountability for the delivery of major projects, and ensure that project managers “feel they have a bit more space to do what they need to do to implement the project more effectively.”

The proposals have been submitted to Parliament to consultation as part of a commitment in the Civil Service Reform One Year On report, published last July, which said that government would reform rules governing select committee appearances in order to retain “the key principles of ministerial accountability,  but reflecting a more direct relationship between parliament, permanent secretaries and SROs". The revised guidance will be published shortly, once consultation with parliament is complete.


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