I have prepared a number of notes which provide a detailed account of, and commentary on, civil service reform activity from 1854 to the present day. They may be accessed via the links listed below.
This website also contains transcripts of interviews conducted in 2013/14 with the six Cabinet Secretaries who were in post between 1979 and 2014. They provide useful background to the changes that took place in and around the civil service during those years. Links to the transcripts may be found at the end of this web page.
Please note that it would be best to read the introductory material elsewhere on this website before reading these detailed notes.
1. From 1854 to 1997 - from Northcote Trevelyan to the 1997 general election
- 2. The Blair Government's Reform Programs 1997- 2007 - including a section on the politicisation of the senior civil service
- There is more detail in an excellent House of Commons Library Research Paper which contains a very clear analysis and description of the Modernising Government and Service Delivery Agenda from 1997 to 2005.
- 3. Eight external reports 2004 to 2010 - recommending various reforms, and including a section on Departmental Boards
- 4. Gordon's Brown's Reforms 2007-2010 - including a 'Civil Service Act'
- 5. Late 2010 to early 2011 - The Coalition's 'Change Programme'
- 6. Late 2011 to early 2012- the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) recommends fundamental change, and the Government closes the National School of Government
- 7. The July 2012 Civil Service Reform Plan
- 8. The 2012 West Coast Main Line shambles and associated activity
- 9. 2013 - Crisis in Whitehall?
- 10. The subsequent 2013 debate about the need for an independent commission - to review the relationship between Parliament, Ministers and the civil service, plus the introduction of SROs.
- 11. Late 2013 - the PASC recommends a Parliamentary Commission
- 12. Late 2013 including Extended Ministerial Offices
- 13. Developments from early 2014, inc. PASC and Liaison Committee Reports
- 14. Mid 2014 - Various Controversies
- 15. Late 2014-early 2015 - New CS Chief Executive, and GovernUp Conference
- 16. May 2015 to June 2016 - NAO on Accountability to Parliament, & CS Vision Statement
- 17. June 2016 to June 2017 - Theresa May Premiership, NAO on Capability, Single Departmental Plans
- 18. June 2017 to August 2018 - The Kakabadse Report, Were Civil Servants Obstructing Brexit?, Success Profiles & Windrush
- 19. September 2018 to July 2019 - Amyas Morse' valedictory, CS training reviewed
- 20. July 2019 to March 2020 - Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings arrive, & Brexit implementation
- 21. March to July 2020 - Bernard Jenkins' valedictory & Permanent Secretaries dismissed
- 22. July 2020 to April 2021 - Simon Case appointed Cabinet Secretary, poor initial response to Covid pandemic
- 23. April 2021 to December 2021 - Social Mobility report on the CS, and Declaration on Government Reform
- 24 2022 - Prime Ministers Johnson, Truss and Sunak
- 25 2023 -
These pages are an important resource for those interested in the UK civil service. Please therefore do not hesitate to send me corrections, documents, images, information and material which could usefully be added to any of the above notes.
Interviews with Cabinet Secretaries
- 1979-88 Robert Armstrong
- 1988-98 Robin Butler
- 1998-2002 Richard Wilson
- 2002-05 Andrew Turnbull
- 2005-12 Gus O'Donnell
- 2012 - Jeremy Heywood