PM appoints first ever chief executive of the civil service

The prime minister has appointed the first ever chief executive of the civil service: John Manzoni, the previous head of the Major Projects Authority.

Manzoni, whose 30 years of experience in the private sector includes time as CEO of BP Downstream and Talisman Energy, steps into a role that was created in the wake of Sir Bob Kerslake stepping down last month.

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has reclaimed the full title of 'head of the civil service', while the new chief executive will have control over the key functions that make government as a whole work more efficiently and improve Whitehall’s ability to deliver. This includes being in charge of the Efficiency and Reform Group and the civil service reform programme.

David Cameron said: “As part of our long-term economic plan, we have cut the costs of Whitehall and improved the way government is run. But the job of changing our country is far from done.

“This is why I am delighted to appoint John Manzoni as the first chief executive of the civil service. John’s experience of business and the private sector puts him in the perfect position to accelerate the pace of these reforms in the years ahead.”

The appointment comes at a time of renewed emphasis in the civil service on finding external candidates with business experience.

The new civil service reform progress report, which was also released today, says that more people from outside the civil service will be brought in to address skills gaps, with more training and support for existing civil servants. There will also be a new presumption that senior civil service appointments below permanent secretary level should be open to external candidates. Civil servants applying for permanent secretary posts will be expected – and after summer 2016 required – to have completed an appropriate business school leadership course before taking up an appointment, ensuring that leadership skills are prioritised for the top management posts in the civil service.

Minister for the cabinet office, Francis Maude MP did say, however, that there was a mixed record of success with people coming to the civil service straight from the private sector, with plenty of examples of “tissue rejection”.

At a briefing in Whitehall attended by PSE, the minister said: “One of the many advantages that John has is that he has already spent six months in the civil service and has emphatically passed the tissue rejection test."

He also stressed that Manzoni’s time in the private sector had given him high level experience in both line management and functional management which are both key skillsets needed for the role.

He said: “John is an excellent choice as the first chief executive of the civil service. Last year alone our Whitehall reforms helped save taxpayers £14.3 billion compared to a 2009 to 2010 baseline. But there’s much more to do to accelerate the pace of reform and embed a new, more efficient approach to government. Hard-working people expect us to spend their money carefully and this appointment will help us do just that.”

Commenting on his new role, Manzoni said: “I am excited to take up this post at the heart of government at this crucial time. My priority is building on the existing momentum to strengthen the execution muscle of Whitehall and embed a sustainable productivity agenda across government. I look forward to playing my part in leading the civil service along with Francis Maude and Jeremy Heywood.”

More on the civil service restructure, and progress on the reform programme, in the next edition of PSE.

(Image: c. LARRY MACDOUGAL/AP/Press Association Images)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Susan Mcdonnell   04/10/2014 at 15:56

I see it makes no reference to the chief executive salary that is being paid?

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