Former minister Maude mooted to lead review of civil service operations

Written by Suzannah Brecknell on 8 June 2022 in News

Newspaper report cites Whitehall sources claiming renowned reformer may be brought in to assess governance and accountability across government

Credit: FCDO/CC BY 2.0

Former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude could be asked to lead a review into how the civil service operates, according to reports.

A story in the Financial Times claims that two senior civil servants believe Maude – who presided over wide-ranging civil service reforms from 2010 to 2015, including the creation of the Government Digital Service and revamps of tech procurement – is being lined up to carry out a review first promised in last June’s Declaration on Government Reform.

The declaration pledged to carry out two reviews, one on " civil service governance, including consideration of the appropriate roles for senior officials, non-executive directors and ministers” and a second looking at “models of accountability for decisions”.

The latter review would, according to the declaration, draw on “international best practice and experiences during the pandemic”, as well as considering the “role and design of ministerial directions”.

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The FT reports that these reviews have been delayed due to arguments over scope, with some ministers arguing that a review should look at whether political appointees could lead departments, according to a “well-placed Whitehall figure”.

Lord Maude, now a Conservative peer, drew the ire of some civil servants during his time as Cabinet Office minister for a sweeping reform programme aimed at improving Whitehall efficiency.

He oversaw major changes to the way Whitehall runs digital services and buys in goods and services from the private sector. In 2020, he led a review into government's cross-cutting functions and spending controls, in which he called for functions to be given a stronger mandate and given greater authority to hold departments to account.

Friends of Maude told the FT he had not been asked to conduct the latest review into civil service accountability.

The government said the review into civil service governance and accountability would take place this year. “They will seek to learn from other countries, organisations outside the civil service, and from recent experiences in government. Further information on this activity will be provided in due course,” an official told the newspaper.


About the author

Suzannah Brecknell is editor of PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @SuzannahCSW.

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