Labour pledges civil service reform to ‘bring in more commercial expertise’

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
9 September 2014

The government’s progress on improving commercial skills in the civil service has been “painfully slow and in some areas has even gone backwards”, according to the Labour Party.

In a speech to the Institute for Government on Monday covering civil service reform Michael Dugher, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, acknowledged “some improvements” had been made but “it’s now time to take it to the next level”.

Dugher said a Labour government would publish a “refreshed Capability Plan for the civil service” in its first year.

“What we need is a comprehensive performance management framework for government,” he said. “To get things back on track, Labour will introduce reforms to set up a new delivery and performance regime at the heart of government to drive through key priorities, ensure better coordination and bring in more commercial expertise.

“Labour will ensure greater accountability and will concentrate efforts on a core set of outcome-based priorities across Whitehall.”

Dugher said it was “widely acknowledged that there are still significant gaps in capabilities and skills” in the civil service and “more experts” were needed in “digital technology, project management, commercial contracting and commissioning”.

“But the government’s progress on this front has been painfully slow and in some areas has even gone backwards,” said Dugher.

“Labour is under no illusions that significant gaps in capabilities and skills will remain in 2015. We will seek to build on the current government’s attempted reforms and put in place the sustained leadership and engagement that is needed to deliver. We will act quickly to publish a refreshed Capability Plan for the civil service in the first year of government.”

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