[LINK] No, PS must carry out govt Policy
Tue, 30 Jan 2001 15:23:17 +1100
No, PS must carry out govt Policy.
Letters to the Editor
Former Chief Executive, Office of Asset Sales and IT outsourcing,
The Humphry report rightly identified the lack of "buy in" by agencies
and management as a prime impediment to successful implementation of
Owen Darcy ("Passing the buck", CT, January 29, pC1) seeks praise for
those officials who resisted the policy. He is fundamentally wrong.
Once the Government has adopted a lawful policy, officials are duty
bound to observe and implement that policy diligently - even if it is
"flawed". The Financial Management and Administration Act does not
over-ride this duty, despite Humphry's views.
Those who failed in securing that "but in" may be criticised, but the
breach of duty on the part of those officials who failed to deliver
their own "buy in" was surely a far worse offence.
If officials were to be free to impede policies with which they
disagreed, democratic government would become unworkable. It may be
unwise for government to adopt administrative policies against a
weight of officials' advice. But democracy requires that they should
be free to err - and be held to account electorally.
In this forum I offer no personal views on the merits of the policy.
The Office of Asset Sales and IT outsourcing, while I was its chief
executive, had no role in its formulation but was charged ex post,
with its implementation as decided by government.
This episode has further tarnished the fading professional standards
of the Public Service, but in ways that the debate, in its simplistic
enthusiasm to kick heads, has so far overlooked.
Members [of civil service orders] rise from CMG (known sometimes in
Whitehall as "Call Me God") to the KCMG ("Kindly Call Me God") to -
for a select few governors and super-ambassadors - the GCMG ("God
Calls Me God").
-- Anthony Sampson, Anatomy of Britain (1962)