This second volume of the Official History of the British Civil Service explores the radical restructuring of the Civil Service that took place during the Thatcher and Major premierships from 1982 until 1997, after a period of confusion and disagreement about its future direction.
The book brings a much-needed historical perspective to the development of the ‘new public management’, in which the UK was a world-leader, and considers difficult questions about the quality of democratic governance in Britain and the constitutional position of its Civil Service. Based on extensive research using government papers and interviews with leading participants, it concentrates on attempts to reform the Civil Service from the centre. In doing so, it has important lessons to offer all those, both inside and outside the UK, seeking to improve the quality, efficiency and accountability of democratic governance.
Particular light is shed on the origins of such current concerns as
This book will be of much interest to students of British history, government and politics, and public administration.
Part I: The Interregnum 1981-1987
2. Filling the Hole at the Centre
3. Managing the Service
4. Government as an Employer
Part II: Next Steps, 1988-92
5. Next Steps
Part III: Further Steps, 1992-97
7. From Next Steps to Competing for Quality
8. The Citizen’s Charter
9. Managing a Changing Service
10. Continuity and Change
11. The Final Assessment
The Government Official History series began in 1919 with wartime histories, and the peacetime series was inaugurated in 1966 by Harold Wilson. The aim of the series is to produce major histories in their own right, compiled by historians eminent in the field, who are afforded free access to all relevant material in the official archives. The Histories also provide a trusted secondary source for other historians and researchers while the official records are not in the public domain. The main criteria for selection of topics are that the histories should record important episodes or themes of British history while the official records can still be supplemented by the recollections of key players; and that they should be of general interest, and, preferably, involve the records of more than one government department.