A major activity today is Commissioning Services by way of Public Tender and then properly monitoring the performance against targets and taking action when projects go “off plan”.
There is now a strong body of evidence based on National Audit Office and other reports that the Civil Service as a whole is in extreme danger of being “Unfit for Purpose”.
This criticism has been made of certain departments like the Home Office for years.
More recently Business Innovation and Skills, BIS, had the Post Office privatisation issue and, separately, it has been reported to have too few senior staff with business or relevant experience relating to the activities of the Department with too much reliance on outside consultants for advice.
It was also identified as having below average morale.
Last year there was strong criticism of the Transport Department in relation to the West Coast franchise allocation.
DWP, Department of Work and Pensions, is rarely out of the news for under performance of Work Contract providers, poor value and delay on the introduction of the Universal Credit project and in the last week the early discontinuation and poor achievement related to the Youth Contract.
Over at the Justice Department there were problems with supervision of provider contracts for prison and offender management services.
Boarder Security, the Passport Issuing Service, the Health Service have all been in the firing line for poor operational performance and / or poor contract management.
The Education Department has had so many reforms and initiatives that teachers are very upset at the level of interference and the public are disappointed at the poor performance of young people in international comparisons and the failure of Colleges and Universities to adequately prepare young people for the world of work with the skills that employers need.
None of this comes as a surprise to me.
The public sector as a whole is providing poor value for money and an inadequate return on investment.
Change, reform and improvement are too slow and too costly.
The structure of the Civil Service, the culture, the management style and inherent inefficiency and ineffectiveness can no longer be tolerated.
There is inadequate scrutiny internally and the National Audit Office, on behalf of Parliament is under resourced for the task it faces and badly supported by MPs.
There are political mistakes and MPs and Ministers must take part of the blame but the real culprits are the Civil Servants.
Ministers cannot be expected to take responsibility for all the staff in their department. Senior Civil Servants need to be held to account for their failures, particularly in policy execution, as well as policy advice.
A recent article in the Telegraph highlights the current issues that result from an inappropriate tax system, largely created by Civil Servants.
Let’s all join the taxation debate but also widen it to a debate about the Structure and Performance of the Civil Service because in one way or another the taxes they raise and spend represent almost 50 % of our GDP.