The FDA has warned the government against wasting “time and money” on ill-directed reform, following reports that the new Prime Minister is planning a “revolutionary” shake-up of the civil service.
Plans to overhaul the service include merging the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with the Department for International Trade, and making the Department for International Development part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office .
Boris Johnson is also allegedly discussing proposals to abolish the role of permanent secretaries. Other proposed changes would make it easier to hire and fire civil servants and replace them with external “experts”.
Dave Penman, General Secretary of the FDA, urged the government not to give into the “temptation to demonstrate their reforming zeal by reorganising Whitehall,” as this can “often be a distraction and waste both time and money as civil servants merge or split departments, rather than simply getting on with the job in hand.”
Warning Boris Johnson against reform for reform’s sake, Penman explained that “transformative government is delivered through policy, not reorganisation.”
Speaking on BBC news, the General Secretary said that “changes should only be made if the plan is to keep them for the longer term.
“My caution to the new Prime Minister will say changing the name on the front door of a department doesn’t necessarily change how policies are delivered and creates a lot of disruption.”
Penman was quoted in The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror, The Times, Politics Home, Civil Service World, and Global Government Forum.