26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Ministers to oversee senior PS recruitment

Start the conversation

United Kingdom Ministers will have greater involvement in the recruitment of senior Public Servants working in their Departments under new plans outlined by Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove (pictured).

Mr Gove’s comments brought an immediate response from one public sector union leader who said the Government was threatening to undermine the impartiality of the Public Service.

Mr Gove said the Government wanted to ensure that Ministers “have visibility of senior Civil Servant appointments in the Departments they lead and provide the Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary with the broadest possible choice of new Permanent Secretaries and Directors General”.

At present, Permanent Secretaries are appointed under a scheme in which the Prime Minister has the final say in selecting from a shortlist of candidates drawn up by the Civil Service Commissioners.

Head of the FDA union, which covers senior Public Servants, Dave Penman said Mr Gove’s suggested plans were worrying.

“The vague assertions over Ministerial involvement in the appointments of Permanent Secretaries and Directors General will raise alarm bells,” Mr Penman said.

“Ministerial involvement in selection not only threatens the impartiality of the Civil Service, but will inevitably lead to greater turnover as successive Ministers seek to build their own team around them, the very opposite of what they say they are trying to achieve,” he said.

Mr Gove also listed “real weaknesses” in Government that he said had been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These included problems over personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement and test availability; the clarity of data required for decision-making; the structure of Public Health England; and the Cabinet Office’s “own coordinating function”.

London, 19 June 2021

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.