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Civil service reform: lessons from overseas Current

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IPPR has been commissioned by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to review how other civil services work.

IPPR is delighted to have won the first contract from the Government’s Contestable Policy Fund to carry out a review into how other civil services work, with a particular focus on the accountability structures used in other countries. IPPR’s review will provide the minister with policy advice to inform thinking on future reform.

The review is the first award from the Contestable Policy Fund, which was announced by Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service, and Francis Maude in June’s Civil Service Reform Plan.

IPPR plans to analyse the operation and accountability structures of civil services including those of Australia, Singapore, the United States, France and Sweden. IPPR will also consider the balance between permanent officials and administrations in which appointments are made by ministers. The review will specifically examine the New Zealand model of civil service accountability, where there is a contractual relationship between ministers, who set clear outcomes, and heads of departments, who are accountable for delivering them.

IPPR will be collaborating with Professor Colin Talbot from the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, who is a leading expert in comparative public administration.

IPPR is also grateful to KPMG for support from their in-house country teams in the case study countries.

IPPR has extensive experience of working on civil service reform. Most recently we published Whitehall’s Black Box: Accountability and Performance in the Senior Civil Service and Innovations in Government: International Perspectives on Civil Service Reform.

Guy Lodge, IPPR associate director, said:

'IPPR is delighted to have been chosen to conduct this important study. It is an opportunity for us to build on our previous work on civil service reform and to take a fresh look at best practice from around the world. We will build on our strong track record of research in this area by studying a number of different civil service systems in a range of different countries including New Zealand, Australia, France, Sweden, and the USA. We will use this comparative work to generate a menu of reform options that could be applied to Whitehall.'