26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: PS needs ‘senior business expertise’

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Former United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne (pictured) says senior business figures from the private sector should be brought in at the top level in the Public Service.

Giving evidence before the newly-formed Commission for Smart Government, Mr Osborne said he would like to see more outside expertise from the private sector brought into senior Government jobs to tackle big challenges.

“I think you could experiment more with having a wider range of people who wouldn’t necessarily have to be in the House of Commons or the House of Lords,” Mr Osborne said.

“Whether you call them Ministers, whether you call them something else, I don’t know, but that feels to me something that other countries do,” he said.

Mr Osborne said these posts would allow people to switch between the public and private sectors.

“You don’t necessarily have to call them Ministers, but yes I would give them control over the direction of the Civil Service,” he said.

“They could become senior Civil Servants who are only there for five or six-year tenures.”

Mr Osborne acknowledged that the move, which would skirt the existing requirements for appointing both Public Servants and Ministers, would be controversial, adding that accountability would have to be carefully thought through.

The former Chancellor also suggested that reforms could include the centralisation of Public Service training, project delivery and the use of data and technology, which he said has fallen “woefully behind”.

He also questioned the Ministerial responsibility model, under which Ministers are accountable for all the actions of their Departments, suggesting that Public Servants should share accountability.

London, 8 November 2020

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