The government want to weed out bad and lazy civil servants, so of course in a move of stunning brilliance they choose civil servants to do it for them, a classic case of setting a fox to guard the henhouse if ever there were one…
BAD and lazy civil servants will be weeded out under a tough new regime, a minister vowed yesterday.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude wants bosses to rank staff in order of performance to end the need for “difficult conversations” with under-achievers.
But the Government denied it envisaged cuts of as much of 90 per cent in Whitehall staffing, said to have been urged by David Cameron’s “blue sky thinker” Steve Hilton.
Mr Maude set out his plans the day after tens of thousands of staff joined a protest against a reform of public sector pensions – and more walk-outs are planned.
Public sector unions reacted furiously to the “cruel” plans. The reforms, to be outlined before the summer, will include a way to improve “performance management”.
Staff already have some pay based on performance but the new regime would introduce ranking to identify under-par staff as well as those doing well who deserve reward.
One of the problems faced is of course that the civil service operates to an entirely different ethos to just about any other human activity. The private sector judges performance by profits, speed and price. The civil service judges its performance by budget, size and prestige, so any attempt to reduce its size immediately runs into the problems of inertia, it’s often not in the interest of a boss to reduce a departments size, to do that might jeopardise the budget and the prestige of his domain. It will certainly get the public service unions worked up too. Oh I’m sure that some superficial changes will happen, if only in claims by the government, but real change? More efficiency? That’s going to have to come from without…
The major issues to controlling government size is that governments accumulate issues of control that they are involved in, where you have control, you need regulation, where you have regulation, you need regulators and once this happens the whole ghastly business of civil service growth begins again.
What we need are definite limits on what the government can do, defence, basic infrastructure planning (Keeping the power going) some form of environmental control (pollution only) and a few others which are necessary to the country but which cannot or are not suited to be run by the private sector. Competition is part of the key and the civil service has no competition, whereas outside contracts competed upon by the private sector will be.
Unless or until we restrict the powers held by the state we will not reduce the size of the state. That’s what Maude will fail, he’s part of the problem.