Civil servants wonder who their customers are

29 Nov 01
Civil servants across Whitehall are confused about who their 'customers' are, with many considering ministers their main focus for policy, a government-sponsored report reveals.

30 November 2001

According to the Public Services Productivity Panel, civil servants feel they are 'implicitly encouraged' to satisfy ministerial demands rather than deliver policies for the public.

'I can't believe they would consider the minister as their main customer. I have never heard anything so incestuous in my life,' said one member of a quango.

But the report, Customer-focused government, indicates a level of confusion at the heart of government, with ministers complaining that rather than being number one customers they are in fact treated as outsiders.

'We are crying out for more engagement with officials,' said an unnamed minister. 'We see ourselves as battling with bureaucracy on behalf of the public.'

The panel, which interviewed civil servants across Whitehall including No 10, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, also found that 'engaging stakeholders was a luxury which time rarely affords'.


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