Headlines: December 16th, 1999

Sir Richard Wilson, Head of the Civil Service, has produced a blue print for a new style civil service in response to the Prime Minister’s demand for reform. The main elements were put together at a gathering of Permanent Secretaries in October. The blue print will have to be integrated with the other major initiatives of Modernising government and Public Service Agreements and taken together they add up to a massive change programme.The key feature of the reform package is an emphasis on leadership. The report makes it clear that leaders are needed at all levels, not just at the top. In order to create an awareness in all senior civil servants of the quality of their leadership, they will all receive 360 degree feedback. For the middle ranks there will be a new Public Service Leaders scheme and selected managers will receive training and development prior to being given demanding placements. Early retirement will make space at the top for those displaying leadership qualities.

The Cabinet Office has been given the job of defining leadership competencies and drawing up an action plan for management training by March 2000. Departments will use the new leadership competencies for targeted recruitment and promotion.

There will also be a drive to make the civil service more open to wider thinking and new ideas. Industrialists and other key leaders in the private sector will be asked to provide 100 secondees in 2000 to tackle tasks demanding innovative thinking and skills that are in short supply in the civl service. Recruitment of managers from the private sector to fill middle and senior posts will be increased by 10% each year. The interchange of staff between departments will be speeded up with the launch in June 2000 of an electronic market place advertising vacancies.

The other elements of the package are: better business planning, sharper performance management, improvement in diversity, and a better deal for staff.

Departments have to produce actions plans to implement the report by February 2000.

The Reform report can be seen at www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/civilservice/21st_century