Don't publish this blog
The Sunday Telegraph asked, under freedom of information, if I would publish the blog. But surely this is our internal space for a frank conversation? I can't see what it's got to do with the national press, can you?
That's a quote from the blog of Sir David Normington, the top civil servant at the Home Office, who has been blogging occasionally on his department's internal website for a year or so. But whatever Sir David's view of whether his blog is suitable for reading by outsiders, someone else at the Home Office has decided otherwise - because this extract is included in a transcript of his blog released today under FOI. (It follows the disclosure of earlier extracts).
So what does the latest intalment of the Permanent Secretary's blog tell us?
• he finds it frustrating to hear of big changes first in the media
• he regrets not being able to brief people beforehand about John Reid’s plan to split the Home Office (but as he says, ‘That’s politics, and sometimes we just have to accept that this is the real world we live in’)
• in six years as a Perm Sec (at Education before the Home Office) he’s worked with six Secretaries of State
• it takes a long time to learn enough facts about the Home Office to feel confident when preparing to be interrogated by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee
• he likes offices to be tidy and staff to look businesslike (even if he suspects they have been told to smarten up for his visit)
• he has to devote a lot of time to sorting out the problems with the department’s internal IT system
• his New Year’s resolution was to tell more about the good stories his department is achieving - such as ‘the best performance on Ministerial correspondence ever’
More generally, the blog does give some insight into the struggles of a manager trying hard to maintain morale and accentuate the positive in an organisation which is famous for being told it's 'not fit for purpose' and where the computers apprarently don't work properly.