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State of the Service

State of the Service

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Our report brings together a wealth of information on Whitehall's performance to create an overview of the state of the UK civil service.
Our report brings together a wealth of information on Whitehall's performance to create an overview of the state of the UK civil service.

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Published by: Institute for Government on Nov 22, 2010
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11/14/2011

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The State of the Service
A review of Whitehall’s performanceand prospects for improvement
Simon Parker, Akash Paun and Jonathan McClorysupported by the Institute for Government research teamJuly 2009
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About the Institute
The Institute for Government is an independent charity with cross-party and Whitehall governance,working to increase government effectiveness. Our funding comes from the Gatsby CharitableFoundation, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.We work with all the main political parties at Westminster and with senior civil servants inWhitehall, providing evidence-based advice that draws on best practice from around the world.We undertake research, provide the highest quality development opportunities for senior decisionmakers and organise events to invigorate and provide fresh thinking on the issues that reallymatter to government.
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Headline findings
This report brings together a wealth of information on Whitehall’s performance to create anoverview of the state of the UK civil service. It identifies high-performing organisations within thecivil service and internationally to encourage further learning and improvement in government:
1.Whitehall in global context:
the UK is among the world’s highest performing governments.The civil service has a relatively positive public image. However, Whitehall is consistentlyoutperformed in international comparisons by a cluster of Scandinavian and Commonwealthcountries.
 
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.almost every area measured, but many of the 2005-08 round of Public Service Agreement (PSA)targets were not met, in part because some targets were poorly conceived in the first place.PSAs that were shared between departments were less frequently achieved. The civil serviceappears to have delivered significant efficiency savings as part of the Gershonprocess, but poordata quality means some savings are open to question.
3.Leadership and people:
civil servants display high levels of pride and commitment, but manylack confidence in their department’s senior leadership. Civil service culture appears to berelatively conservative, which may limit the potential for innovation. Recruitment of senior officialsfrom outside Whitehall is growing, with uncertain implications.
4.The role of the centre:
within Whitehall, the UK operates a relatively decentralised model ofgovernment, with departments enjoying high levels of autonomy when compared to the rest of theOECD. This may contribute to silo working within central government, making collaboration andcross-departmental innovation more difficult.
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