Top civil servants face tougher performance reviews

Francis Maude says Whitehall should recruit more senior staff from the private sector

Ministers stepped up the pressure on Whitehall senior civil servants by publishing the personal objectives of 15 permanent secretaries, as well as those of the Cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, and the head of the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake.

Francis Maude, the Cabinet office minister, said all the permanent secretaries would be subject to two reviews each year and, for the first time, there would be formal input from ministers on their performance.

The individual objectives of the permanent secretaries are separate from the wider departmental business plans and designed to show the areas where a permanent secretary is expected to dedicate his personal energies.

Maude said the proposal was not moving to a contractual model between civil servants and ministers, but would be a way of increasing transparency about performance and linking this performance to pay.

But Kerslake said the reports on whether permanent secretaries were meeting their objectives would be not be published.

Maude also published information on the operational and commercial experience of permanent secretaries from the 15 main delivery departments. It showed just over a quarter had high levels of operational and commercial experience before their appointment.

Maude said he would aim to ensure that half of new appointments to the post would have at least two years’ such experience and he would like more senior civil servants below permanent secretary to be recruited from the private sector.

Maude said he would prefer to see ministers be given a choice of potential permanent secretaries: “I don’t think there is any deep-seated principle that if a minister is given a choice that in some way imperils it being fair and open appointment on the basis of merit”.

Kerslake accepted that Whitehall had gone in the wrong direction in terms of the number of women running Whitehall departments. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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