Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 120-139)



  120. They will put the blame on you if it goes wrong.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) I have to get them working and singing to the same hymn sheet, yes, absolutely.

  121. You are going to last three years? One thing I am interested in is the Treasury Panel. That comes under you at the moment, does it not?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) The Public Services Productivity Panel. Is that what you mean?

  122. Yes. Is that going to come under you?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) No, that is a Treasury—

  123. But you have a sort of line going to it. Is that still going to stay within the Treasury. Sorry, it has Commerce.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) That is the Office of Government Commerce. OGC is an office within the Treasury. It will stay within the Treasury.

  124. Is that the Panel?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) No, that is not the Panel. OGC is the body that brings together the Government's procurement and project management and it is going to improve the commercial relations with our suppliers. That is in the Treasury and will remain in the Treasury, but the head of it, Peter Gershon, would be part of this group, he would attend its meetings, because he brings a set of very relevant skills. He is our expert on programme and project management and a whole policy and technique of how you acquire the goods and services that you need.

  125. So it would still be Treasury controlled, but he would be sitting in and reporting to you.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes. But he does not report to me in the sense of me writing his report, that is still a Treasury function. He is a co-opted member of this group. The OGC will remain in the Treasury.

  126. Can I come back to the Director of Communications, Alastair Campbell. He does not sit in any of this; he will still sit outside this. As a strategy and communications provider.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) For Number 10, yes. He is not part of the Cabinet Office.

  127. The permanent secretary posts. Are they all civil servants? Do any of them come from external posts?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Eight of them have come from outside.

  128. Do you see ultimately your job coming from industry?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) I think it would be quite difficult. I do not rule it out. I think the more likely way it would happen is not that someone comes directly into it, but someone comes from another sector, becomes a Permanent Secretary, then acquires enough of the necessary skills and then becomes a credible contender.

  129. The idea being to open it up because, as you said, there is no such thing as a job for life and a permanent secretary could come from ICI or wherever.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Large numbers—not all—of the Permanent Secretary posts will be subject to open competition. So the Permanent Secretaries or Heads of Profession will come from other sectors. Indeed, in one case, from another country. The Chief Statistician comes from New Zealand.

  130. We will go there ourselves one day. In November Michael Trend was asking Richard Wilson about these wonderful charts that we all have. He said that he would provide one really to make sure that we understood what was going on. An organisational chart of Number 10 with lots of pictures on it. Are we going to get one from you? We do like this sort of thing.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) You can have photographs on it if you want.

  131. And a diagram like this which includes the Government Strategy, the Policy so we understand what you are trying to achieve by this and put a bit more meat on the bones.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) If you want a chart which adds the Number 10 side of it I can provide that.


  132. You can see, Ian is a curious character and you will see from the BlueTack he probably has these on his bedroom walls. If you could keep them coming we would be very, very grateful.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Whether they would be glossy, I do not know.

Mr Liddell-Grainger

  133. Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes.

  134. So you will do the whole lot?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes. It should be simple because the DPM and the units reporting to the DPM have now moved out.

  135. Yes, understood.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) In a way which I think makes a great deal of sense.


  136. Just a couple of very quick things that I wanted to make sure we have a word about. Are you the first Cabinet Secretary to have hived off propriety issues to somebody else?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) I have hived them off to somebody who reports to me, so I do not think I have hived them off.

  137. That is what "hiving off" means, is it not?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) No, I think hiving off means, for example in the Treasury, "I hived off everything". There is very little that I do and only I do. I manage the organisation as a whole.

  138. So the propriety buck stops with you. That is what you are saying.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes. David Omand is the senior official, but ultimately what actually happens is that there are two questions: What is the framework in which propriety works? Then there is the handling of particular cases. David's job is to work on the proposals for the framework. Whether he or I get involved in a particular case depends on how serious it is. If it was an absolutely important thing I would definitely get involved.

  139. Good, as we would expect. I think that is the reassurance that we wanted. There is a row bubbling along about how the senior civil servant appointments' process should work or be changed.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes.


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