Richard Broadbent, former Group Managing Director at Schroders plc has scrapped the 19th century management structure at Customs and Excise which was based on policy area responsibility. This is the start of a process of change which so far has produced a six person Management Committee to manage the department and abolished overlapping responsibilities. Committees responsible for co-ordination between the different policy areas have also been scrapped.The re-structuring of the senior management team will allow the Board to focus exclusively on strategic issues and approval of annual plans and budgets prepared by the Management Committee. Richard Broadbent, who was appointed Chairman of Customs and Excise in February 2000 will chair the Committee as well as the Board. Committee members will have individual cross department responsibilities such as policy, central functions and outputs. This switch from a vertical to a lateral structure will make each members responsible for specific issues which span across the department and this will end the fragmentation of accountability which caused problems in the past.
The Committee will include new blood, but the early retirements involved will make limited demands on the 100m pounds Modernisation Fund set up under the Civil Service Reform programme announced by Sir Richard Wilson at the end of 1999.
This new thinking which takes a strategic approach to managing departments will be the focus of attention both within and outside Whitehall.