Sir Jeremy Heywood – New Civil Service Chief Executive Appointed – Track Record? Failure.

August 21 2014: New Civil Service CEO should report to PM, says think-tank founder

The new chief executive of the civil service will only have “sufficient authority” if he/she reports directly to the prime minister, rather than Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood,  John Healey, co-founder of new think-tank GovernUp, has said. November is the earmarked start date for the new CEO whose line manager will be Heywood, according to the job spec produced by the  cabinet Office last month. But, speaking in a joint CSW interview with think-tank co-founder CSW Nick Herbert MP , Healey MP said that, “unless they are in a position with sufficient authority”, the new person will struggle to exert enough influence in Whitehall. Asked what he means by “sufficient authority”, Healey said: “For me, it means reporting directly to the prime minister. It doesn’t mean reporting to some other civil servant.”

Healey said that he was, “sceptical” about whether creating a, “freshly designated post will make a sufficient difference”, adding that it will be hard to find both, “the skills to know how you can make big organisations that are disparate in their functions and structure perform, report and deliver better.” Herbert, who co-founded GovernUp with Healey 18 months ago to produce a range of radical ideas to reform government, was more optimistic about the new role. He described the new person, who must, according to the job ad, “demonstrate that he or she has had a successful career in the private sector”, as “a huge opportunity to bring in someone with real commercial acumen which is what Whitehall needs.”

The Financial Times newspaper reported on Monday, 18 August, that Whitehall is struggling to recruit anyone for the new post, “with several business leaders having turned down approaches from head-hunters less than three weeks from the closing date for applications” – 5 September. The FT quoted a “person familiar with the [recruitment] process” who said that the government has “drawn up a ‘plan B’ to appoint John Manzoni, a former BP senior executive and now the head of the Major Projects Authority, if a suitable candidate does not come forward”. Candidates who have been approached are, the FT reported, concerned that, “you sign up now and then six months later get a Miliband government.”

October 27 2014: Controversial former BP executive appointed to the top of the Civil Service

A former BP executive criticized for his role in the Texas oil refinery explosion which killed 15 people in 2005 is to become the first chief executive of the Civil Service. The controversy at BP arose when Mr Manzoni was blamed by an internal report for failing to heed, “serious warning signals” prior to the Texas explosion. Mr Manzoni ran about half of BP’s global operations before moving on to Talisman Energy, a company heavily involved in fracking in the US, which was fined over dozens of health and safety violations.

John Manzoni will be responsible for making savings across Whitehall in areas such as IT, procurement and contracts. For the past six months, he has been overseeing the Government’s watchdog scrutinizing major projects such as HS2 and the nuclear programme. He is due to start his new role as civil service chief on 13 October, with a salary of £190,000 a year. He will report not only to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, but also to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude. Sir Jeremy admitted that the Civil Service still needed to be, “much better at doing commercial stuff”, such as contract management, which will be an early priority for the new chief executive.

Mr Manzoni’s role will be vital as the Civil Service attempts to find about £13 billion of extra cuts in the spending round after the general election. Mr Maude said he expected efficiency would have a “very big role” whoever was elected, and Mr Manzoni would be closely involved in delivering that. One of Mr Manzoni’s priorities will be to drive the expansion of the Government Digital Service that aims to transform the way in which people interact with government online. However, this has not been entirely smooth so far, with a website designed to allow people to renew their tax disk online crashing on its first day.

Yesterday’s announcement comes alongside a new progress report on Civil Service Reform. The report says that more people from outside the Civil Service will be brought in to fill skills gaps, with more training and support for existing civil servants. By April 2015, there will be a presumption that senior civil service appointments below permanent secretary level should be open to external candidates. Applicants for permanent secretary posts will be expected – and, after summer 2016, required – to have completed an appropriate business school leadership course, ensuring that leadership skills are prioritised.

Announcing the chief executive appointment, David Cameron said that Mr Manzoni’s private sector experience put him in the, “perfect position to accelerate the pace” of civil service reform. Sir Jeremy added: “We have all been impressed by John’s leadership of the Major Projects Authority.” Mr Manzoni was chosen after an external competition which some believed would result in a high-profile outsider being brought in to run the Civil Service. However, there was thought to be little interest in so called heavyweight business figures, and ministers decided to stick with someone who was a known quantity.


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