Dominic Cummings should beware pointless Whitehall reorganisation

Now that Brexit at the end of January has become a foregone conclusion, MPs and their advisers are already preoccupied with the next big event in each of the parties. For Labour, their whole future direction is at stake in a momentous leadership election. Somewhere out of sight of the media, the Liberal Democrats are also choosing a leader and trying to work out what on earth went wrong.

Among the victorious Tories, every minister is inevitably weighing their chances of promotion or dismissal in a reshuffle of responsibilities that cannot be long delayed. Boris Johnson has earned the right to hire, fire and reorganise in any way he wants, while his powerful adviser Dominic Cummings has appealed…

Whitehall needs to splash the cash to get the experts Dominic Cummings wants

There has been a lot written since the election about Conservative plans for civil service reform, which has been boosted by Dominic Cummings’ blog yesterday on the need to diversify the talent pool in Government. 

As someone who has worked in four departments over 20 years, I have a lot of sympathy for what Cummings is trying to achieve: the areas that he lists are clear expertise gaps in some (though not all) parts of government. Arguably, decision-making in some areas needs to change. But it’s striking that much of the comment on the back of Cummings’ piece latches on to issues which are not unique to the civil service and also fails to appreciate the unique nature of government, the pressures…

If Dominic Cummings needs weirdos and misfits, just look at those still fighting Brexit

After Boris Johnson’s thumping election win last month settled the question of whether the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, reasonable people are moving onto what comes next.

Dominic Cummings has decided to lead from the front with a candid call on his blog for remarkable boffins, “weirdos and misfits” to join the government. The chief Downing Street aide’s characteristically colourful language has ensured that the vacancies he wants to fill get much more attention than typical postings advertised by the Whitehall machine.

With Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal guaranteed safe passage into law, as proven by it sailing through the second reading just before Christmas, there is no doubt that…

Whitehall is woefully unprepared for Dominic Cummings’ true plan to reform the state

Public sector reform will be a major focus of the new Government, and so far commentary has focused on shifting around departments. This, former senior civil servants argue, would be a costly moving of the deckchairs – one that too many new administrations try. They are right that moving around departments won’t change much. But their analysis is also catastrophically wrong, because this is only a tiny fraction of the Government’s plan.

 

I cannot decide if Downing Street has deliberately sent people down the wrong path, or if officials are so used to meaningless “machinery of government” changes that they cannot believe the PM and his chief aide, Dominic Cummings, mean business. As a result,…