Civil service 4: shake-up of public administration is no substitute for intelligent and decisive policy choices

Political Concern

A Financial Times editorial states: “Responsibility for mishaps during Mr Johnson’s first year in office has resided primarily in Downing Street, not the wider civil service”.

Summary

The country’s civil service sometimes faces the challenges of the digital age within a framework designed in the 19th century.

The fiasco over exam results, on top of the UK’s poor handling of coronavirus, has revealed how much the machinery of government is creaking.

The FT editorial board sees responsibility for the mistakes behind Britain’s particularly heavy death toll resting above all with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the cabinet. because the big decisions — delaying the lockdown, initially scrapping track and trace procedures, and discharging large numbers of the elderly from hospitals to care homes — belonged to ministers.

They did, however, concede that Whitehall, and the agencies that report to it, were not as adroit as they might have been…

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