Magazine article Public Finance

Kerslake Signals Finance Reform

Magazine article Public Finance

Kerslake Signals Finance Reform

Article excerpt

Whitehall's finance function could undergo further reform as part of coalition efforts to modernise the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake has revealed.

The civil service head told Public Finance an evaluation of the Whitehall reform plan would be published in July to review the progress made so far.

In an exclusive interview, Kerslake said this paper would also indicate areas for further action.

He admitted the government had made 'a bit of a slow staif when the Civil Service Reform Plan was first launched in June 2012, but insisted 'it is now moving forward at pace'. Progress has been made on 'foundation' areas of the reform plan, such as determining which skills and capabilities need to be developed across Whitehall, and steps have been taken to improve the commercial skills of civil servants.

However, implementation of other aspects needed to quicken, Kerslake added. 'We know we've got other things to focus on, and there's no room at all for complacency - we've a lot more to do.'

Part of the plan being considered for further changes is the role of the finance function across Whitehall, he told PF.

The initial reform plan states that financial management across government would be strengthened, with the Finance Transformation Programme intended to give finance functions in departments and agencies greater authority.

However, Kerslake indicated that this was being re-examined: 'We're looking at the core functions across the piece, not just finance, but also HR and other areas.

'Is there an argument for changing the way they're done in government?

'Thaf s definitely one of the areas we're exploring at the moment'

Although he could not yet say which changes would result from this, Kerslake indicated that programme and process management were among the areas being looked at.

His comments follow the Institute for Government's review of finance skills in the Financial leadership for government report, published in April. It concluded that the finance function could do more to inform performance management, with the Treasury given a wider role to support value-for-money initiatives across Whitehall.

Responding to Kerslake's comments, IfG deputy director and report author Julian McCrae told PF that examining reforms 'in a wider context of the functional elements of government was very sensible'. …

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