Civil servants may soon be forced to shape up or ship out under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s tough new rules, a co-author of the Conservative manifesto has said. Mr Johnson’s plans aim to crack down on incompetent civil servants through exams to prove capability. Rachel Wolf, the co-author of the most recent Conservative plan which saw the government sweep to victory, stated that officials are “woefully unprepared” to deal with the changes that the Prime Minister wishes to implement.
In an article published in The Daily Telegraph, Ms Wolf said wide-scale public sector reform would be a key government concern moving forward after Brexit.
She said although a spotlight had been shone on shifting departments, this would only be a “tiny fraction” of the so-called “revolution” Mr Johnson and his top aide, Dominic Cummings, plan to implement in the Spring.
As a result, competency exams could well become a staple of work as a civil servant.
Ms Wolf claims this could end the “merry-go-round” of job changes present within Whitehall, where role shifts usually occur every 18 months.
These role rotations, she states, foster the so-called ‘Peter Principle’, “where everyone rises to their position of incompetence”, creating a culture which “kills institutional memory and expertise”.
Ms Wolf, a partner at Public First – a communication firm helping organisations to ‘understand and influence public opinion through research’ – warned that officials “cannot believe the PM and Dominic Cummings mean business” and are therefore ill-prepared for the future.
Mr Cummings, the former Vote Leave co-ordinator, is thought to be behind the new plans.
Ms Wolf stated Mr Cummings has been “reading and thinking about how to transform the public sector for two decades”.
While Mr Cummings is thought to oppose the current structure of Whitehall, he does, Ms Wolf claims, have a “long list” of civil servants he does admire, “much longer” she asserts, “than the list of politicians”.
She believes the manifesto promises she helped to blueprint for the Conservative party will not come to fruition unless there is a radical change in how the government operates, stating there must not be “project overruns and delayed commitments that have symbolised government incompetence and waste for too long.”
It is thought that the new civil service changes will radically change the way in which civil servants are recruited, trained and retained – with exams seeking to target data science, systems thinking and forecasting.
It is also predicted that civil servants will be “reoriented to the public” rather than “stakeholders”.
The real test, however, will occur in the next five years, when the government will once again be judged in a General Election.
This, Ms Wolf claims is a matter not of organisational structure, but of whether the government has delivered what it promised.
Civil servants may soon be forced to shape up or ship out under Prime Minister Boris Johnson's tough new rules, a co-author of the Conservative manifesto has said. Mr Johnson's plans aim to crack down on incompetent civil servants through exams to prove capability.