How to be a Civil Servant
One of the weaknesses of the British Civil Service is that - like many other professions - its members are very unwilling to identify and criticise other members (or groups of members, including whole departments) who are performing badly. One way round this is to carry out benchmarking exercises and peer reviews, but even these are regarded with some suspicion by many senior civil servant. Nevertheless, there have been three recent episodes of such activity.
First, there were three peer reviews of whole departments (or at large parts of them)in period up to 2000, including:-
The sad thing is that although all these peer reviews seem to have been excellent pieces of work - they were certainly highly readable - the last took place in October 2000 so this was yet another initiative which ran into the sand.
Next, the Smith Institute and the Industry Forum subsequently employed the LSE's Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation to benchmark the Department of Trade and Industry against their opposite numbers in Germany. The resultant excellent report, published in March 2002, contains some very valuable advice for both departments.
Third, and most recently, Departmental Capability Reviews were announced by the incoming new Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O'Donnell in late 2005. They will examine:
There will be no assessment of wider departmental performance.