Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures


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Policymaking without regard to implementation often leads to expensive and controversial problems, and sometimes worse when new policies have to be abandoned. This is far from just a UK phenomenon and parallel problems have been seen in France, Germany and the US the latter notably over the introduction of the new health care provisions.

We suggested the appointment of a policy director in each department, as well as the extension of the accounting officer role of Permanent Secretaries to cover proper processes in policymaking as well as value for money.

This would have meant that a Permanent Secretary would be answerable to the Public Accounts Committee of the Commons for policymaking procedures. We also proposed that streamlined policy assessments be made available for public scrutiny.

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The underlying belief was that the policy process needs to be better informed by evidence that is high quality and up-to-date, takes account of previous policies and of experience from the front line, overseas and in the devolved administrations and in local government. That changed in when the Civil Service Reform Plan was being prepared and ideas were being sought on policymaking.

This focused on the better use of evidence in government around the theme of Open Policy Making. Apart from the recommendations of best practice for departments, and their own parallel initiatives to improve policymaking, there have been four central policymaking innovations in UK government:.

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The Behavioural Insights Team has been important in its own right, but it has also served as an example of the application of evidence in policymaking that has had wider implications, such as the creation of the What Works centres. The What Works Centres have been set up to use evidence to make better decisions to improve public services. These have built on the example of NICE — the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence — which has used evidence to inform very tricky decisions on the approval of drugs and health spending. The intention has been to spread this approach with the use of high quality evidence on what works — and, equally importantly, what does not work — to decision makers in other public services.

This involves producing a common set of standards in each area to compare the effectiveness of interventions. The emphasis is on ensuring that evidence is well presented and shared with policymakers to develop an informed view of what is cost-effective in public services. Local commissioners decide on how best to spend public money and public service providers help decide on how best to deliver and improve public services.

They include NICE, which has broadened its remit to cover social care as well as health; the Education Endowment Foundation set up by the Sutton Trust for improving educational outcomes for school-aged children; the Centre for Local Economic Growth hosted by the London School of Economics, Arup and the Centre for Cities ; the Centre for Crime Reduction a partnership between the College of Policing and a consortium of eight universities ; the Centre for Early Intervention, aimed at improving the life chances of children; and the Centre for Ageing Better backed by the Big Lottery Fund which works with older people to promote active and independent ageing.

The centres are independent, mainly charities, though, in general, have some initial support from central government departments. The Contestable Policy Fund was created to allow ministers to commission specific pieces of policy development outside the civil service from external organisations such as think tanks, academic or voluntary bodies.

This is not quite as new an idea as it appears and rests on the long-dated assumption that Whitehall is closed to outside ideas. That has been wrong since the late s when many of the key innovations of the Thatcher era — such as privatisation — were imported from outside government, before being interpreted and developed by civil servants.

Moreover, even with the Contestable Policy Fund, the assessment of policies and advice to ministers will remain with civil servants and advisers as before. Formalising such outside advice, however, does demonstrate Whitehall's desire to look outwards. Initially, most attention was focused on a project on ministerial and civil service accountability which was commissioned in the summer of by Francis Maude, the Minister for the Civil Service, and carried out by the think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research IPPR and published a year later.

This was a thorough piece of work but its recommendations got caught up in arguments between Mr Maude and senior civil servants. O ne of the paradoxes of modern government is that there has never been so much evidence around, nor so much worry about badly designed and implemented policymaking. Certainly there appears to be less time and space for reflection on, and consideration of, evidence. That is one reason for the decline of the Royal Commission, the classic vehicle from the Victorian era until the s for major problems to be investigated by committees of the eminent.

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But there have been just three since Margaret Thatcher took office in , compared with 34 in the slightly shorter period since Prime Ministers now prefer to set up smaller, more rapidly reporting inquiries, which they can control. Some of these inquiries have used evidence to build up support for significant changes in policy. Adair Turner's reports on pensions in and led to a reassessment of the balance of private and state provision, while Andrew Dilnot's work on the financing of care in old age eventually produced a shift in government policy.

In other cases, such as John Browne's report on the funding of higher education, the analysis and recommendations were only partially implemented. Often, of course, the evidence comes after the new policy initiative. That has been true of all governments, notably in some of their law and order, school and welfare initiatives. This is defended on the grounds that otherwise there is a bias towards inertia in the policymaking system, as caution in the face of vested interests will work against radical changes. The key is to have checks built into the system to ensure that evidence is considered before new policies are launched.

That has been a central theme of the work of the Institute for Government. We have consistently argued that policy and implementation cannot be divided.

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Policymaking without regard to implementation often leads to expensive and controversial problems, and sometimes worse when new policies have to be abandoned. This is far from just a UK phenomenon and parallel problems have been seen in France, Germany and the US the latter notably over the introduction of the new health care provisions.


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We suggested the appointment of a policy director in each department, as well as the extension of the accounting officer role of Permanent Secretaries to cover proper processes in policymaking as well as value for money. This would have meant that a Permanent Secretary would be answerable to the Public Accounts Committee of the Commons for policymaking procedures. We also proposed that streamlined policy assessments be made available for public scrutiny.

The underlying belief was that the policy process needs to be better informed by evidence that is high quality and up-to-date, takes account of previous policies and of experience from the front line, overseas and in the devolved administrations and in local government. That changed in when the Civil Service Reform Plan was being prepared and ideas were being sought on policymaking.

Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures

This focused on the better use of evidence in government around the theme of Open Policy Making. Apart from the recommendations of best practice for departments, and their own parallel initiatives to improve policymaking, there have been four central policymaking innovations in UK government:. The Behavioural Insights Team has been important in its own right, but it has also served as an example of the application of evidence in policymaking that has had wider implications, such as the creation of the What Works centres.

The What Works Centres have been set up to use evidence to make better decisions to improve public services. The rule-bending jeitinho , in turn may be associated to the traits of personalism and roguery described by Freitas and to the practice of of overcoming dar a volta por cima , pointed pointed out by Junquilho The comment by interviewee no.

Thus, the civil servant uses this resource due to previous non-fulfillment by the TJBA, due to not possessing the minimal conditions necessary for the work, such as an adequate period or provision of sufficient resources. This Brazilian, rule-bending is not utilized to the advantage of the civil servant and sometimes seems to have an altruistic connotation.

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A crying mother arrives bringing a child custody case that has priority over other such cases, but there are 20 of these and all have priority. You are disparaging the others? If you think like an accountant, you are. But no, you want to help someone who came begging for help, a mother weeping.

Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures

It's a parent who wants to bury a child who has no birth certificate And what do you do? You really end up moving her to the head of the queue. It's the reality. It'd be hypocrisy if I said Everybody knows that the case down at the bottom of the pile comes up to the top. It's not to gain anything. I'm an honest person.

I don't receive even one real. Besides situations in which the breaking of norms and rules by civil servants is observed, diverse situations could also be observed in which established norms and rules are broken by the court itself. Regarding the disobedience of norms and rules, a range of situations was highlighted by the interviewees in which the TJBA does not dispense to the civil servant the treatment compatible with that determined by the law or the norm defined by the court itself. Most of these situations are linked to allocation of civil servants to functions outside their original position, for which they had undergone a competitive entrance examination, or to working hours or remuneration hours or remuneration diverging from that defined by norms.

A situation quite often remarked on by the interviewees was the issue of substitution, which is the procedure to make a civil servant responsible for fulfillment of the functions related to another position that has become vacant in the judicial district. According to the norm, substitution must respect the educational requirements of each position. Thus, a civil servant who occupies a mid-level position cannot replace the incumbent of a higher level.


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The norm also makes provision for a salary increase for the civil servant who is substituting.

Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures
Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures
Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures
Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures
Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures
Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures

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