Britain’s civil service blob never learns from its own success

The task force therefore conjured up a symphony of improvisation and coordination. Their task was made more difficult by a scandalously hostile media and a tribune from the National Audit Office – all eager to find corruption where there was none.

So this should have been, as American shrinks might say, “a teachable moment”. We would expect the media and government to have scoured history and looked for the things they did differently that might be worth emulating, and embed such practices in SW1.

But two years later, it’s as if it never happened. Could it be because they don’t want to learn?

Tim Hanes, who wrote the book The Long Shot with Dame Bingham, thinks so. “We have returned to writing in a reluctance to organize tackling problems across departments. It’s very siled again,” says Hanes. “And when they seek advice, they do so from a narrow section of the academic community.”

It’s not as if Bingham didn’t offer some sage advice in his conclusion, but this must have made for painful reading. Maybe too painful. She highlights the overwhelming bias in the recruitment of art graduates and the monoculture this creates.

Very few permanent secretaries have a Stem (Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics) degree, she explains, while fewer than 10 per cent. of candidates entering the fast track civil service scheme also have a tribal background.

“Instead, Whitehall is dominated by historians and economists, few of whom have ever worked outside the official and political world,” she writes.

Bingham also laments the “almost complete absence” of industrial, commercial and manufacturing skills. “And if these skills are not in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which also funds academic research, where are they?” she asks.

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