Politicians and Public Services

Politicians and Public Services

Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures

Kate Jenkins

As a senior official in Mrs Thatcher’s government, the author describes in detail and from the inside the process of planning and introducing ‘executive agencies’, a major change in one of the largest governments in the world. She emphasises the intense difficulty involved in getting agreement to change and to implement decisions, discussing the problems of conflicting objectives between politicians and officials in dealing with the practicalities of managing large public sector institutions. The UK experience of ‘executive agencies’ has been influential across the world and in many countries. This book describes how the UK system was devised and introduced.

Chapter 3: Management and the Civil Service: The Rayner Approach

Kate Jenkins

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy


In 1980, management was not a glamorous subject. It ranked low in the list of topics the senior Civil Service was interested in. It was down with premises and cars as a task for people who could not cope with a thinking job. Management was for them, not for us. Senior civil servants were kindly to managers as long as no one expected them to do the managerial jobs. One senior official was told in an appraisal interview that he would do a very good job of running the National Health Service but he would not make a Permanent Secretary. There had been flurries of management fashions before, training courses included sensible advice from older executives on remembering to tell your staff when you wanted them to work late and from an accountant on how to read a balance sheet. The innovations following Fulton and the 1970 Heath government White Paper had produced some changes, but the Civil Service, as an institution, was not managed. It was controlled and administered but not managed. Many people in the Civil Service seemed not to have grasped the point about management: it was a means of achieving objectives, using resources effectively and improving the way organisations worked. For the public service it had the potential of breaking out of the circular routine of cuts in resources and inadequate services using outdated systems. RAYNER AND SCRUTINIES Rayner set out to demonstrate that using some simple techniques and a good deal of common...

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