Former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said the UK civil service is a quarter of the way along a journey to improve its commercial skills.
Lord Maude, who oversaw root and branch reform of central government procurement between 2010 and 2015, said there was not enough willingness among civil servants to learn from outsiders.
“It’s a very insular world,” he told SM. “A lot of people who come in to do commercial roles find no-one knows how to use them and they get fed up and leave. A big culture change is needed in the civil service.”
Maude said skill levels among civil servants were “about a quarter of the way” from where they needed to be and he did not believe procurement was being driven enough.
He said there was too much of an emphasis on policy-making skills among senior civil servants, which made sense in certain departments, but not in others. “Other departments have huge operations where putting a policy mandarin in charge of a budget of hundreds of billions of pounds is insane. You need to have people running those departments who are very commercially capable.”
Maude was minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General between May 2010 and May 2015. After this he became minster for trade and industry before stepping down from the government in April 2016.
A full interview with Maude will appear in the May issue of Supply Management and he will be speaking at the CIPS Middle East Conference and Awards on 9 May.