Letter to The Times03 September 2009
Sir, Sir Robin Mountfield's views (letter, Sept 1) are not representative of all civil servants. We spoke to current officials during research for a study on Civil Service reform published in March. They said that civil servants must be more accountable, which, at the top level, should be achieved through ministerial appointment, in common with most developed countries. The result would be a greater effort to get policy right and to protect taxpayers' resources.
Sir Robin refers to the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms. But the report that motivated them did not oppose direct appointment of advisers and senior officials. It focused instead on ensuring that performance management was effective. The capability reviews show that this aim has not been achieved.
Sir Robin is rightly concerned about "jobbery and cronyism". We hope he would agree, however, that current appointments of senior officials are far from transparent. What is needed is to bring Civil Service employment into the open. Ministerial appointment, at the top level, is part of that process.
Greg Rosen, Lucy Parsons and Andrew Haldenby
Authors of Reform's Fit for Purpose