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Browne wins Whitehall role

LORD Browne, the former chief executive of BP, is set to be appointed as the government’s most senior independent director in a massive shake-up of Whitehall.

He is being enlisted as part of plans to inject private sector thinking into the senior civil service, which is often accused of being wasteful and over-staffed.

Browne will become a senior independent director on the board of the Cabinet Office, carrying out a yearly audit of public spending and reporting his findings to the Prime Minister.

And he will recruit a further 16 big-hitters from the business community to become directors on the boards of other government departments.

Several potential candidates have been sounded out, including Sir Chris Gent, chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Roy Gardner, chairman of Compass Group and Sir Nigel Rudd, the chairman of BAA and Invensys.

Currently, Whitehall boards are chaired by the department’s permanent secretary, with directors sourced from the public sector.

But under the new plans, masterminded by cabinet secretary Francis Maude, the board will be chaired by the secretary of state while at least one director will have blue-chip business experience.