Audit Commissions Kirby to shake up Whitehall

3 Oct 02
Paul Kirby is to play a crucial role in the government's drive to reshape public services after being appointed head of reform strategy at the Cabinet Office.

04 October 2002

The Audit Commission's current director of inspection, who will take up his new post later this month, will assume overall responsibility for shaking up the Whitehall machinery to ensure it delivers on the government's pledges.

Kirby, who is being brought in to set up a new team, will report directly to Cabinet secretary Sir Andrew Turnbull. He will have a roving brief across the units within the reform and delivery team in the Cabinet Office.

These include the strategy unit, led by Geoff Mulgan; the delivery unit, headed by Michael Barber; and the public service reform unit, led by Wendy Thomson.

Kirby told Public Finance he would take a 'co-ordinating' role and identify structural reforms needed to achieve the units' objectives.

'The reform strategy team is about upping the pace and the scale of public service reforms,' he said. 'There is some frustration at the inability to change them with speed. I'm going to take stock of what needs to be consolidated and what needs tackling in a new way.'

He added that the precise relationships between him and the other unit heads 'would be worked out' once he was in post.

Kirby's appointment came just days before Tony Blair pledged in his speech at the Labour Party conference to be radical in his programme of public services reform. It heralds a major shake-up for the civil service, which the government believes is in need of substantial reform if it is to achieve improvements in public services.

To kick-start this process, Kirby will support Turnbull in implementing the departmental change programme, which is intended to modernise every Whitehall ministry. Each department will have its own unit to boost leadership and delivery skills, define strategy and improve financial and business planning capability.

Kirby will also be responsible for developing the existing performance management programme for permanent secretaries, involving performance-related pay.

'It will be making sure that performance management is robust and more effective than it has been, to challenge and support them in their work,' Kirby said.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said Kirby's overall responsibility would be to 'identify the key messages of reform and communicate them to the civil service'.


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