Fire the 1% - a good start

It shocks me that it has taken this long, but the Government is seriously considering instituting a policy of firing incompetent people in the Civil Service. To this I can only comment "about bloody time!" and "good luck but I don't fancy your chances."

I've worked in the Civil Service and encountered the mind-bending work-to-ruleishness, incompetence, 9-5 mentality and tall-flower-gets-cut-down syndrome that characterises an organisation where it's almost impossible to fire people, promotion is based on fitting in and not rocking the boat, and a promotion "fast stream" promotes university graduates with irrelevant degrees as they are rotated through (and destroy) departments to demonstrate their "managerial" skills.

It is by no means an exaggeration to say that if you have someone in your department who is plainly incompetent, and they don't actually commit criminal acts at work, it will take at least two years to get them fired via the standard procedures. This is a recipe for incompetence, and has been used to bake Civil Service goods for many years.

So the semi-competent to competent majority of Civil Service bods should welcome this streamlining of the firing process. Right? Well, anyone who has read "Yes, Minister" knows how the senior Civil Service CMGs and KCMGs will view this.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, before the latest round of industrial action, Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, said: "It is a myth that you can never sack a civil servant."
"It is not easy to sack anyone, nor should it be. But it is no more difficult in the civil service than it is anywhere else, on performance grounds."
Oh, Francis. You were doing so well until that last sentence. It's bloody difficult in the Civil Service to sack someone who plainly cannot do their job. In industry they wouldn't make it out of their probationary period.

How many staff should go?

It is understood that the Prime Minister’s advisers are privately urging Mr Cameron to go further and dismiss tens of thousands of officials.
The major banks let go about 5% of their staff, on average, each year. These are almost exclusively the bottom-performing 5%. You can say a lot of things about the banks, but everyone working there works hard and is at least competent at their job, or they're out in short order. This is probably more ruthless than the Civil Service wishes to be, so let's let go the bottom-performing 1%, and incorporate the past 5 years. 400k Civil Service bods x 5% == 20k firees. Sounds about right.

The Government has noticed the lack of competence:

Since entering government, ministers, especially those with a background in business, have grown frustrated at the slow pace of work in Whitehall departments and the lack of creativity among staff.
Personally, I'd demand that departments use the savings from firings to compensate better the high achievers among them. But I don't have any illusions that the senior Civil Servants will do anything with this money other than reward those who show the signs of being "one of us" (c.f. Kim Philby, Guy Burgess etc.)

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