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Innovating through machinery of government changes

Knowledge Transfer

19 May 2010
Chair David Halpern, Institute for Government

  • Professor Patrick Dunleavy and Anne White, LSE Public Policy Group
    Click here to download presentation.
  • Raymond Fawcett, National Audit Office
  • Sir Richard Mottram, Former senior civil servant and Visiting Professor, LSE
  • Dr David Bennett, Former Head of Policy and Strategy, 10 Downing Street


Reorganising the structure of Whitehall departments is one of the easiest and most powerful tools at the disposal of UK Prime Ministers - and one they have rarely been able to resist using when they come into office. At their best, department reconfigurations provide a way to adapt government to meet long-term policy and administrative goals.

But however successful a new department might become, long term adaptation is seldom the primary motivation for a machinery of government change. New departments always provide the opportunity to reorder the cabinet, reward allies and signal new priorities to the electorate.

These benefits come at a high price: whatever their motivation, machinery of government changes are often announced at very short notice, usually poorly managed and always costly.

This seminar will begin with Professor Patrick Dunleavy and Anne White from the LSE Public Policy Group outlining findings from a research project looking at machinery of government changes over the last thirty years. Their focus will be on outlining common themes in decision-making and post-change operational challenges of department reconfigurations from 1979 to 2009. This research forms the basis for a forthcoming report entitled Making and Breaking Whitehall Departments completed jointly by the LSE Public Policy Group and the Institute for Government.

Raymond Fawcett will then discuss research that NAO has recently completed looking at the costs of machinery of government changes - including a large number of sub-department level changes in arms length bodies and NDPBs between 2005 and 2009.

Then Sir Richard Mottram and Dr David Bennett will discuss MOG changes that they have been involved in from the point of view of the senior civil service and policy advisors.

Speaker details

  • Professor Patrick Dunleavy is Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the London School of Economics and Chair of the LSE Public Policy Group. His research interests focus on moving all government processes online, how government communicates with citizens, electoral reform and citizen redress. His latest publications include (with Helen Margetts, Simon Bastow and Jane Tinkler), Digital Era Governance: IT Corporations, the State and E-government (Oxford University Press, Revised paperback edition, 2008). He is co-author of the Making and Breaking Whitehall Departments report (forthcoming).
  • Anne White joined LSE Public Policy Group in January 2010 as a Researcher. She holds a Dual-Degree Masters in Public Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics and Sciences Po, Paris. Her working experience bridges the private and public sectors. Before coming to London, Anne worked in the loyalty strategy and marketing functions for a Canadian telecommunications firm. She is co-author of the Making and Breaking Whitehall Departments report (forthcoming).
  • Raymond Fawcett is an Audit Manager at the NAO. He is a chartered accountant with a PhD in mathematical modelling. He has worked at the NAO since 1992, following a career in IT. Raymond manages value for money investigations covering a wide range of government departments and agencies. His recent work has covered central government reorganisations and public service pensions.
  • Sir Richard Mottram GCB, is Visiting Professor and guest Lecturer on Leadership in the Public Sector at the London School of Economics. Sir Richard's career includes fifteen years as a Permanent Secretary in five different departments including the Department for Work and Pensions, the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
  • Dr David Bennett was Prime Minister's Head of Policy and Strategy from 2005 to 2007. Responsible for the Policy Unit in No. 10 and the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, his role was to oversee the development and implementation of domestic policy on the PM's behalf, with a particular focus on public service reform.  Before working at No. 10 David was a Director with McKinsey & Co. where he was co-founder of the Firm's European Utilities Practice and of its Global Business Technology Office. Currently, David is Chairman of 'The 10 Partnership', a start-up company that provides strategic and operational support to the public sector, and a Non-Executive Director of GHK Holdings, an international consultancy providing policy advice and support to governments and multi-lateral funding agencies around the world.
  • David Halpern previously worked as Chief Analyst in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (2001-2007). He led numerous reviews, including the UK Government's Strategic Audits and recent Policy Reviews; set up the Social Exclusion Task Force and drafted its Action Plan; and authored many of the Strategy Unit's most influential papers, such as on Life Satisfaction and on Personal Responsibility and Behaviour Change. Before entering government, he held tenure at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge University, where he still remains an Affiliated Lecturer. 

    He has also held posts at Nuffield College, Oxford; the Policy Studies Institute, London; and as a Visiting Professor at the Centre for European Studies, Harvard. He has published widely including books on Hidden Wealth of Nations (2009); Social Capital (2005); Options for Britain: a strategic policy review (1996) and Options for a New Britain (2009), and Mental Health and the Built Environment (1995).