26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Top official quits ahead of shake-up

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Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Public Service, Sir John Manzoni (pictured) is to step down in the middle of the year ahead of a predicted upheaval in the way Government is run.

Government officials have insisted his departure was not linked to the shake-up of Whitehall being proposed by Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s influential Chief Adviser.

Sir John’s decision to step down comes as Mr Cummings prepares to shake up Whitehall by bringing in more experts, including scientists and data experts, to work alongside Public Servants.

Sir John, 60, has led efforts to make the Public Service more efficient, including improving procurement processes, a particular bugbear for Mr Cummings, and digital services.

As Chief Executive, he works alongside Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill who has formed a close working relationship with Mr Cummings.

Sir John is also Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office and attends Cabinet meetings.

He was previously Chief Executive of Talisman Energy and held senior roles during a 24-year career at BP.

Permanent Secretary at the Department of Business and former Chief Executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, Alex Chisholm has been tipped as a possible successor, as has Permanent Secretary at the soon-to-be-disbanded Department for Exiting the EU, Clare Moriarty.

However, Mr Johnson’s office declined to confirm whether the role of Chief Executive would continue after Sir John’s departure.

Sir John was appointed as the first Chief Executive of the Public Service in October 2014, taking on some of the management responsibilities of Bob Kerslake, who retired as head of the Public Service at that time.

London, 23 January 2020

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