Chapter 4: Improving Management in Government: The Efficiency Unit Investigation
4. Improving management in Government: the Eﬃciency Unit investigation The Eﬃciency Unit in 1986 had a staﬀ of eight to ten with members from both the private sector and the Civil Service. The main tasks were running the scrutiny programme, encouraging greater attention to management in speciﬁc projects and carrying out reviews of management issues for the Prime Minister. The scrutiny programme was the principal activity and occupied most of the working time of the team. The Unit was housed in the attics of the old eighteenth century Treasury building designed by William Kent in the 1720s. The rooms overlooking the Park were white panelled and thickly carpeted. The other oﬃces had spectacular views of Whitehall’s remaining chimney pots. One room had furniture economically recycled from the CPRS Directors’ oﬃce and pictures from the Government art collections. The narrow passages held the ﬁling cabinets; access was either up the back stairs, stone, narrow and winding, or through a large windowless room containing, bizarrely, a large table tennis table. It looked like old Whitehall. Messengers delivered post every two hours. There were computers but they were so elderly and temperamental that few could understand them and only someone from the suppliers could repair them – at several days notice. New working methods were needed as badly as elsewhere in the system. But even in the Eﬃciency Unit there was strong opposition to the most basic changes. Grumbles and complaints greeted new computers on every desk, even...
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