26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: PS ‘not dealing with under-performance’

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The Director of former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s Policy Unit has accused the Public Service of being unwilling to deal with poor performance among senior officials.

Speaking at the Institute for Government’s annual conference, Munira Mirza told a panel session on Whitehall reform that she believed the Public Service had an aversion to tackling poor performance head-on and that the situation had a negative impact on morale among competent staff.

“I’ve spoken to lots of Civil Servants who’ve all complained there is poor performance that isn’t dealt with properly,” Ms Mirza (pictured) said.

“It’s very demoralising, and it gives them the sense that people just get moved sideways,” she said.

“They get given a good reference, then they pop up in another Department, leading some other incredibly important project.”

Ms Mirza acknowledged that she had “no scientific data” on the performance-management failings she believed were a major problem in Departments.

However, she said the way such problems had been related to her indicated they were widespread.

“The fact so many people will say it sotto voce means it is a general problem,” Ms Mirza said.

“In most companies, there is a recognition that if your team is under-performing somewhere, you should do something about it.

“In the Civil Service it perhaps gets hidden or people are moved around.”

Ms Mirza quit Government after Mr Johnson wrongly accused Labour Party Leader, Keir Starmer of failing to prosecute celebrity sex-offender, Jimmy Savile during his time as Director of Public Prosecutions.

She is now Chief Executive of the Civic Future organisation.

London, 22 January 2023

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