Whitehall to get new brooms

Finance chiefs to rein in departmental spending
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The Independent Online

Government departments are to get their own "finance directors" under an initiative being pushed through by the new head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O'Donnell.

Under the plan, each department will have its own professionally qualified heads of finance to keep a tighter rein on spending. It is likely that the departments will go outside the Civil Service for these finance chiefs - with the private sector or the health service likely to be happy hunting grounds.

In addition, a number of departments now plan to appoint chief operating officers, who will report to the permanent secretary but take charge of administrative and staff functions.

Among the departments already actively trying to recruit for these posts is the Department of Trade and Industry. Its permanent secretary, Sir Brian Bender, recently told senior staff that he would be holding an "open competition" - which is code for going outside the Civil Service - for a head of finance. Sir Brian also said he would be conducting a "Whitehall trawl" for a chief operating officer.

In recent years, Whitehall has tended to look beyond the Civil Service to bring in fresh talent. Sir Gus last week promoted such a recruit - Ian Watmore, who came from the accountancy firm Accenture last year to head the Government's IT strategy. Mr Watmore is to take charge of delivery of policy objectives.