Rob Whiteman responds to PASC's report on the accountability of quangos and public bodies


Responding to the Public Administration Select Committee report released today on the lack of accountability and transparency in government quangos and agencies, Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA and himself a former CEO of the UK Border Agency commented:

“The problem is that central government is not sufficiently transparent. Decisions are taken behind closed doors and all advice is privileged in a way not adopted in other areas of the public sector.

"A major culture change is needed in the civil service and from Ministers to promote more open and accountable Government and to improve the quality of decision making at the initiation of policy programmes.

"Also, if we are to see more joined up delivery of public services on the ground we need to break down the traditional Whitehall ‘silos’.

"As we point out in our 2015 election manifesto the consequences of silo thinking in Whitehall are exposed most clearly in the local work carried out by departments.

"Initiatives such as Total Place and Community Budgets, and the time taken to deliver tangible benefits, have revealed how disjointed and incoherent centrally controlled public services have become.

"All too often information, resources and ideas are not shared, common goals are not agreed, costs are duplicated and performance is undermined.

"Departmental boundaries – perpetuated by both civil servants and ministers – constantly frustrate attempts to collaborate around the needs of communities."


Notes to editors

While setting out some of the long term fiscal challenges the UK is currently ducking, CIPFA's 2015 Manifesto also sets out key policies that CIPFA believes need to be introduced if the UK public finances are to be sustainable in the long-term.
These include:

  • a legal requirement for regular property tax revaluations
  • a shift to more income related benefits
  • co-payment for some services
  • an increased role of private sector service provision
  • the replacement of the Barnett formula to meet clearly stated aims for distributing funding between England Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the establishment of an Independent
  • Grants Commission to advise on methodologies and decisions on devolved funding distribution across the UK
  • the expenditure on outsourced contracts for public services to be made transparent through open book accounting.

CIPFA’s manifesto discusses the proposed elimination of the budget deficit by 2018/19 and the profound choices that will have to be made by policymakers, politicians and voters to achieve this. It calls for the need for further reform to ensure public finances are sustainable over the coming decades and for the government to avoid making further fiscal commitments which it ultimately cannot afford.