Whitehall fightback19 January 2010
Sir, The Institute for Government's new report looks like a fightback by Whitehall against greater accountability for the Civil Service, which should be resisted ("Whitehall needs more powers" , Jan 18).
There was a determined approach last year by both main parties to make the Civil Service more accountable, amid growing concern about government performance and value for money. For the most senior civil servants, that should be achieved through giving ministers control of their appointment, in common with most other developed countries.
In contrast, the institute's proposals represent a defence of the status quo, with permanent secretaries answering to the Cabinet Secretary rather than to ministers. This may seem an abstract point, but on it depends much of the success of the next government. To get the budget deficit down, as all parties rightly aim to do, will need departments that follow a strong ministerial lead, not a separate internal agenda.
The institute's report does not reflect the views of all civil servants. The current officials to whom we speak want civil servants to be personally accountable for performance and value for money.
Andrew Haldenby, Lucy Parsons and Greg Rosen