Civil Service is a ‘Rolls Royce in need of repair’

  • @oliver_wright

Britain’s Civil Service may be a Rolls Royce – but it is in need of urgent repair, a committee of MPs has concluded.

In a critical report, the Public Administration Select Committee (Pasc) said many government departments showed signs of being failing organisations with an “atmosphere of blame”.

It recommended that the  ministers set up a cross-party parliamentary inquiry to assess the future of the Civil Service and concluded its current reform programme was “too modest and piecemeal”.

Highlighting recent Whitehall blunders, the report said that too often ministers and officials blamed each other for things going wrong. “We believe that civil servants may attribute such failures to inexperienced ministers with party political agendas,” it says. “Either way, few ministers or officials seem to be held accountable when things go wrong.” And the report concludes: “Whitehall is a Rolls-Royce machine, but it is sorely in need of modernisation and repair.”

Pasc’s Tory chairman, Bernard Jenkin, said there was a risk that “periodic disasters and shambles, like the West Coast Main Line… will increasingly recur”.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “The chairman of the committee has long made his preference for a parliamentary commission clear… but our priority remains to implement our reform programme.”