Chapter 8: Views and Comments: A Success or a Staging Post?
By the mid-1990s agencies were no longer a ‘reform’; they were regarded as a part of the government. The management structure of nearly three quarters of the Civil Service had been altered, in many cases irrevocably. Most agencies worked to speciﬁc, published targets with published performance indicators. The function, objectives and results achieved by each organisation were all available. The chief executives of the agencies had a recognised public responsibility and published personal objectives against which their achievements could be tested; their pay was inﬂuenced by performance, and failure could be the subject of public debate. The establishment of organisations designed to focus on Fulton’s basic, guiding principle: ‘look at the job ﬁrst’ had been achieved. But the concern expressed by both the Fulton Commission and the Eﬃciency Unit report about the management skills and competence of the senior Civil Service remained largely unmet. The agency changes have not only been radical in organisational terms. If that were all it really would be just a change for the writing paper and organisational theorists; the changes have forced forward improvements in service levels and the culture of the public service. Oﬃces are open at more convenient times, staﬀ are generally more helpful and courteous. There does appear – to the member of the public at the end of the telephone – some improvement in the attitude of the staﬀ and the services available. These changes are not all or only attributable to ‘Next Steps’ as it had become generally...
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