Reforming the Civil Service. The Efficiency Unit in the early 1980s and the 1987 Next Steps Report. Haddon, C Technical Report Institute for Government, 2012.
Reforming the Civil Service. The Efficiency Unit in the early 1980s and the 1987 Next Steps Report. [link]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
Political / Strategic. Changes to civil service practices, culture and skills in the 1980s form an important stage in the development of the Civil Service. For many, this period saw a metamorphosis in civil service reform. However, the changes that occurred are complex, and the most visible and far-reaching of them actually have their origins in more localised initiatives. The era also provides important lessons about the way in which reform is attempted. Through certain initiatives, the 1980s saw a deliberate attempt to drive change from within, rather than examining from without as major reviews of the Civil Service had done previously. The Efficiency Unit was established in 1979 election by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to look for ways of saving money in departments, but developed a pattern of work that would also seek to tackle skills and culture, with some hope of thereby reforming the system itself. This was change by practice, or by example, with a conscious intention to produce ripples of reform that would spread outwards. Though not always successful, the Unit was certainly exceedingly productive. Looking at its methods and intentions in particular, the Efficiency Unit in its early years under Derek Rayner, and its subsequent role in the Next Steps report of 1987, is a classic example of the way governments have attempted to use reforming internal units to improve their own effectiveness. The 1968 Fulton Inquiry into the Civil Service had concluded that the skills of the Civil Service needed to be improved, but also that they must continue to do so as the role of government changed.1 However, for Clive Priestley, Chief of Staff of the Efficiency Unit under Rayner, there had not been enough progress in the development of the Civil Service since Fulton, which was still “instinctive... with not enough value placed on education and training” and little incentive for “determined management or cost control”.2 Likewise, for Kate Jenkins (another member of the Efficiency Unit and later its Chief of Staff and one of the authors of its most famous report, Improving Management in Government: The Next Steps) by the 1980s, the Civil Service was increasingly on the back foot coping with a changed environment, expectations and role.3 This was made more acute as, with the cost of public services rising in the 1960s and 1970s, resources were even harder to manage. At the same time, advances in thinking about management in the private sector formed a relatively strong coalition for change. Fulton, like other large-scale external reviews, had in some ways been an attempt to force change from without. The Efficiency Unit was more an attempt to change-through-action, driving change from within. It also laid the basis for the Next Steps reforms, which followed a similar method of review but moved more towards the underlying structural problems, and whose implementation would ultimately prove more far-reaching, even if not entirely achieving what the authors intended.
@techreport{haddon_reforming_2012,
	title = {Reforming the {Civil} {Service}. {The} {Efficiency} {Unit} in the early 1980s and the 1987 {Next} {Steps} {Report}.},
	shorttitle = {Reforming the {Civil} {Service}. {The} {Efficiency} {Unit} in the early 1980s and the 1987 {Next} {Steps} {Report}.},
	url = {http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/reforming-civil-service-efficiency-unit},
	abstract = {Political / Strategic.  Changes to civil service practices, culture and skills in the 1980s form an important stage in the development of the Civil Service. For many, this period saw a metamorphosis in civil service reform. However, the changes that occurred are complex, and the most visible and far-reaching of them actually have their origins in more localised initiatives. The era also provides important lessons about the way in which reform is attempted. Through certain initiatives, the 1980s saw a deliberate attempt to drive change from within, rather than examining from without as major reviews of the Civil Service had done previously. The Efficiency Unit was established in 1979 election by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to look for ways of saving money in departments, but developed a pattern of work that would also seek to tackle skills and culture, with some hope of thereby reforming the system itself. This was change by practice, or by example, with a conscious intention to produce ripples of reform that would spread outwards. Though not always successful, the Unit was certainly exceedingly productive. Looking at its methods and intentions in particular, the Efficiency Unit in its early years under Derek Rayner, and its subsequent role in the Next Steps report of 1987, is a classic example of the way governments have attempted to use reforming internal units to improve their own effectiveness. The 1968 Fulton Inquiry into the Civil Service had concluded that the skills of the Civil Service needed to be improved, but also that they must continue to do so as the role of government changed.1 However, for Clive Priestley, Chief of Staff of the Efficiency Unit under Rayner, there had not been enough progress in the development of the Civil Service since Fulton, which was still “instinctive... with not enough value placed on education and training” and little incentive for “determined management or cost control”.2 Likewise, for Kate Jenkins (another member of the Efficiency Unit and later its Chief of Staff and one of the authors of its most famous report, Improving Management in Government: The Next Steps) by the 1980s, the Civil Service was increasingly on the back foot coping with a changed environment, expectations and role.3 This was made more acute as, with the cost of public services rising in the 1960s and 1970s, resources were even harder to manage. At the same time, advances in thinking about management in the private sector formed a relatively strong coalition for change. Fulton, like other large-scale external reviews, had in some ways been an attempt to force change from without. The Efficiency Unit was more an attempt to change-through-action, driving change from within. It also laid the basis for the Next Steps reforms, which followed a similar method of review but moved more towards the underlying structural problems, and whose implementation would ultimately prove more far-reaching, even if not entirely achieving what the authors intended.},
	institution = {Institute for Government},
	author = {Haddon, C},
	year = {2012},
	keywords = {Europe and North America},
}

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