Michael Gove: Name and shame failing civil servants

Posted On: 
25th November 2016

Civil servants in charge of failing projects should have their names made public and lose their jobs, according to Michael Gove.

Michael Gove has launched an attack on failing civil servants
PA Images

The former Cabinet minister said it was time the taxpayers had a government machinery "worth what we pay for" as he listed a series of botched schemes.

Writing in The Times, he highlighted warnings that the Royal Navy's new Type 45 destroyer will not work properly in warm seas.

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"Never mind Britannia no longer ruling the waves, we can scarcely send a ship south of Skegness without the propulsion system going phut and the insurance premiums going through the roof," he said.

"The cost of repairing these latest procurement disasters will be at least £280m. And because of the way the MoD agreed the contracts, the shipbuilder gets off scot free and it’s you and me who pick up the tab."

Other failing projects attacked by Mr Gove include a multi-billion pound new IT system for the NHS, new aircraft carriers which have no planes to land on them, and the St Helena airstrip on which planes cannot land.

The ex-Justice Secretary said: "I welcome the chancellor’s decision to scrap the tradition of using the Autumn Statement to make new spending announcements.

"In its place I’d like to see not half-yearly but weekly statements — reporting results in the real world rather than promises for the future — updating us on how effective all the public spending that’s already been announced has actually been.

"And alongside these updates I’d like to see the names of civil servants responsible for these programmes published, their explanations for failure (or success) recorded and those who’ve failed be removed while those who can demonstrate clear, measurable, success get promoted.

"I know this concept — let’s call it accountability — may be somewhat revolutionary for our civil service. But as the prime minister pointed out in another context, a change has got to come.

"Ministers get sacked from time to time when things go wrong. But the senior civil service survives and prospers, insulated from responsibility for their actions, while the projects they’re supposed to be managing fail and fail again."

Mr Gove had repeated clashes with civil servants when he was education secretary, accusing them of being part of a "blob" resistant to new ideas in schools.


​Meanwhile, Mr Gove is also spearheading a campaign to force Theresa May to spend a £32bn "Brexit dividend" on the NHS.

The Office for Budget Responsibility this week estimated that was the amount the Government will no longer have to send the the EU after Brexit.

A group of MPs called 'Change Britain' and including Mr Gove say that will free up £200m a week for the health service - although that is less than the £350m the Vote Leave campaign said would be available during the referendum campaign.

In a joint statement, the MPs said: “The OBR has revealed that the British people will get back over £10 billion net a year once we leave the EU.

“We believe that this Brexit dividend should be spent on our priorities – the most important of which is our NHS.”