The Prime Minister is considering a report from the Cabinet Office's efficiency unit, to be published next week. It suggests that figures with extensive knowledge of the world outside Whitehall would be a asset in introducing and managing government programmes.
The report is believed to stop short of an overhaul of recruiting procedures which would make every senior job up to and including the rank of permanent secretary subject to competition from the private sector. It points out that even private-sector firms maintain a body of in-house expertise and corporate loyalty by ensuring an internal path to top jobs.
But the report recommends that a shake-up of internal culture in Whitehall is now necessary. No more than 10 per cent of the 620 top Civil Service posts are filled by open recruitment.