An overwhelming majority believe that officials' incompetence goes unpunished and most are highly critical of their departments' ability to move with the times, according to an internal opinion survey, revealed after a Freedom of Information request by the IPPR think-tank.
The foreign prisoner deportation row brought to the boil tensions between Labour politicians and officials they accuse of bungling and then ducking responsibility. The new Home Secretary, John Reid, was unsparing in his criticism of his "dysfunctional" department when he gave evidence to MPs on its failure to keep tabs on foreign criminals.
In the survey, just 6 per cent of Home Office officials believe that poor performance is dealt with effectively. Only the Department of Transport, at 5 per cent, recorded a lower score. On almost every measure, civil servants at the Home Office and the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister gave a poor assessment of their colleagues' abilities.
The findings of the internal Senior Civil Service Leadership and Skill Survey also show that less than half of senior officials believed they were being effectively led. Nor does Tony Blair's own department, the Cabinet Office, emerge with much credit: more than one in four of its mandarins say they have no clear idea of what it is trying to achieve.Reuse content