Civil service loses influence over government policy to outsiders

CIVIL servants will have less influence on government policy following today’s announcement that a research contract has been handed to an outside organisation.

The left-leaning IPPR think tank has been commissioned to carry out of a review of how foreign civil servants work to help with ongoing UK public sector reforms.

The move is significant because British politics has traditionally relied on employees of the civil service to produce new policy ideas, which critics say can stifle fresh thinking.

“We’re not in the world anymore where we assume that Whitehall has the monopoly on wisdom or expertise,” Francis Maude, minister for the cabinet office, explained to reporters yesterday.

But although IPPR won a competitive tendering process City A.M. understands that several leading think tanks that might have been expected to bid – including Reform and the Institute for Government – decided not to compete for the £50,000 contract.

Maude would only say that around 20 organisations had expressed an interest in the work, including some profit-making bodies – but they would “have to accept think tank rates”.

He said IPPR’s recommendations would form part of the fight to boost the economy: “Productivity in the public sector remained static during the decade before the coalition government while productivity in the private services sector rose by nearly 30 per cent. That’s a huge drag on the economic performance of the country.”