Cabinet Office has no records of obstructive officials

 
Francis Maude

Some top civil servants have deliberately obstructed plans that ministers want implemented.

That's the view of the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who in a speech to the Institute for Government last month complained that "there are cases where permanent secretaries have blocked agreed government policy from going ahead or advised other officials not to implement ministerial decisions".

It's not happening all the time, he says, but there are too many occasions on which this "utterly unacceptable" behaviour has occurred. He's keen to stress that Labour ministers in the previous government also protested about the same difficulty.

In an interview in August Maude outlined one example where he said a permanent secretary's behaviour was "designed to give a signal to all the officials in the room that they needn't bother about what Francis Maude wanted".

Angry

It's one reason why he's introducing a plan for civil service reform, including greater accountability for the top officials in government departments.

But how often have senior officials actually been behaving in this unconstitutional and obstructive way to intentionally thwart the wishes of ministers? I made a freedom of information request to the Cabinet Office for examples of the problem Maude is angry about.

I was surprised to get the reply that they couldn't tell me about any - because they haven't got any relevant recorded information.

Response from Cabinet Office

So what is the explanation for this? "Francis Maude was referring to verbal communications rather any recorded information", a Cabinet Office spokesperson told me. (FOI requests only cover information which is recorded in some form).

'Not fruitful'

But why are none of the examples recorded? "There is no list of examples, because we haven't held a meeting to collate the examples," says a source close to Maude. "We didn't think it would be fruitful to do so".

So if that's the explanation, I suppose at least it means it wasn't because the minister asked officials to draw up a list of examples of civil servant obstructiveness and they refused to do so.

 
Martin Rosenbaum, Freedom of information specialist Article written by Martin Rosenbaum Martin Rosenbaum Freedom of information specialist

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 35.

    34.York1900
    That could back fire that he needs to get in to the media before it does back fire laying the blame at officials rather than standing up and saying it was my idea it was wrong
    But officials are there for such thing to take the blame topical politician way out blame any one who can not speak up in the media because of there rule of employment and the law

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 34.

    To be honest some one needs to try and put a check on ministers as we who vote them in seem to after put up with the dead ideas they come up with that get passed senior officials
    What all so makes me laugh is that if minister as come up with a idea that is a total tank the minister blames the officials
    We have had it from Theresa May on many occasions what idea as Francis Maude come up with

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 33.

    Perhaps Maude just thought it was time he had some publicity. The Politicians in Gov seem to be saying anything to get attention lately.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 32.

    Francis Maude is a self righteous, horrible, sneering, snivelling creep of a specimen, who is not fit to govern anything. Get rid of him immediately and the country would be a far far better place...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 31.

    I had been a Tory voter for nearly 40 years, I was deeply critical of Blair and Brown when they were in power, but the way this incompetent coalition blames the last Government and Civil Servants for all the countries woes is starting to wear very thin. I cannot wait to vote Labour for the first time. Maude has been caught out!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 30.

    An evidenced-based approach is at the heart of good decision-making. Far too often, this Government makes assertions which prove unfounded but the 'damage' is done because misinformation is already in the public domain. Bad-mouthing officials is cheap.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 29.

    I say Sir Humphrey, Maude's at it again...

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 28.

    It's a shame no one was obstructive enough to block Andrew Mitchell's £16M check being sent to Rwanda.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    Maybe these civil servants know better than the money grabbing, selfish, self centered lying politions?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    Sometimes I despair of journalists - anybody that could imagine how this information could be usefully and efficiently recorded is either a business administration genius or, more likely I'm afraid, just has not thought about the problem properly!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 25.

    classic way for underling to stop implantation is to lose the part of paper work or lose the memo. sound like the coalition has a lot of old new labor party burrowers that need to find new employment.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 24.

    It is so typical of politicians generally, to a certain extent, and this Omnishambles of a Coalition in particular, that Ministers will never take responsibility for their own mistakes, or wild ideas that cannot for logisitical and/or legal reasons, be implemented......

    "....we've got a situation, what should we do? Ah, blame the civil servants, that'll get us off the hook......."

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 23.

    Ripe for outsourcing, possibly. :)

    Probably to the Cook Islands. Bliss

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 22.

    I would have thought that one of the key responsibilities of a senior civil servant was to try and stop the implemention of "mad-cap" policies which are frequently dreamt up by politicians.
    It's called checks and balances.
    Also a key responsibility is getting rid of useless Prime Ministers such as Gordon Brown by leaking to the media how useless and difficult he was to work with.
    Alan

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 21.

    Why should Civil Servants be any different from the rest of us , in regard to listening to what Mr Maude has to say?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 20.

    any excuse from the hateful party to cover up their mismanagement of the economy and greed. And of course the ever untrustworthy BBC will do their masters bidding

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 19.

    Liberal fascists have to be held to account as is blocking democracy

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 18.

    Just another dreamt up load of rubbish to beat some group with . Similar to IDS suggestion that gazillions are calming benefits from abroad turned out to be about 11 3/4 . The coalition seems to work by , you loth Civil Servants,Unions, Unemployed, Teachers, and what to change the system first de base it de humanise it, most right wing tyrants start that way . Look up A Hitler.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 17.

    The Brodie-crat blockers!
    I can think of one Brodie-Crat blocker that should have been sacked!

    Perhaps we need an 'over-arching public inquiry' to see who is telling the truth - if Ministers were subjected to these hideous crimes - then the police should be called in to interview those responsible and see if the 'blockers' are properly paying tax - & compensation should be paid out of pensions

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 16.

    I doubt telling ministers their plans and ideas are illegal counts as stopping them implementing plans, it's called doing their jobs.

    Perhaps had Maude listened or asked his civil servants something during the petrol dispute he would not have advised people to break the law and put their homes at risk - luckily is only cost one person their lives as a result of his stupidity.

 

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