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Anthony Barnett

FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Slash and burn won't cure Whitehall - 0 views

  • It is also important that the cuts agenda does not deflect from wider reforms. First, the civil service and ministerial merry-go-round needs to be ended, with project management skills improved. In 2009, I became the fifth transport secretary in barely three years. In my previous three-and-a-half years as schools minister, I served under three secretaries of state in a department renamed and reorganised twice. This is no way to run the country.It is a similar story with the civil service, which is often far from permanent or expert, despite its image. As schools minister, driving forward the multibillion pound academy schools policy to replace failing schools, the biggest single obstacle I faced was the weakness of the Whitehall machine. In eight years I saw six directors of the academies programme come and go, for reasons entirely divorced from the requirements of the programme. All were capable, but policymaking and project management skills were often lacking.
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