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Think tank: Adam Smith Institute

Author(s): Tim Ambler

June 29, 2022

his report from UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute looks at reforming the UK Cabinet Office.

The Adam Smith Institute’s latest discussion paper, written by Tim Ambler, proposes a number of reforms to improve the efficiency and value for money of the Cabinet Office. This paper is part of the Adam Smith Institute’s “Reforming the Civil Service” series. The structure and working of the Cabinet Office is complex, confused and unwieldy; The Cabinet Office does not appear to know how many people it employs and it is unclear how approximately one-fifth of the workforce contribute towards its priority outcomes, Large recent increases in Cabinet Office spending are unexplained. Several key responsibilities of the Cabinet Office are better suited to other departments—its role should be limited to managing the civil service and coordinating policy formulation and delivery; Many of the Cabinet Office’s departments, agencies and public bodies should be privatised, closed, integrated into the core Cabinet Office or investigated by the National Audit Office; Various high profile groups within the Cabinet Office should be privatised, closed or moved to different departments; Significant reform is vital to ensure value for money for taxpayers and efficient governance; One possible outcome of these reforms would reduce the Cabinet Office headcount to 1,286, i.e. by about 90%, through redistribution, restructuring, or redundancy. This could be partly accomplished through the application of a reverse ‘Parkinson’s Law’—discovering what will not be done in the event of a drastic headcount reduction (before any redundancies take place) and easing numbers up until all essential work, and only that, is covered.