Further to my earlier report on George Osborne’s plans to introduce financial incentives for civil servants to save money, the shadow Treasury team and Francis Maude have just launched plans to "stop the Whitehall spending supertanker".  David Cameron was present at the launch but didn’t speak.  In addition to plans to introduce a fiduciary reponsibility for civil servants to spend money wisely Mr Osborne also promised "an independent “rapid response” team that will quickly identify specific improvements in efficiency where waste is suspected or seen. The team will be able to launch investigations on behalf of the Office of Financial Management and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and will publish the results of its investigations."

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In his remarks Francis Maude called for a more mature view of risk within the civil service:

"At the working level the culture is thoroughly risk-averse.  No one’s career is damaged by persisting with an inefficient status quo.  But try something new that doesn’t work and it can be an instant black mark on the personnel file.  The truth is that many innovations don’t succeed.  But good organisations learn as much from the failures as from the successes.  Of course innovation needs to be well thought through and the risks properly assessed.  We need to move away from the blame culture where every failure is assumed to be a culpable failure.  We need a culture where people are encouraged to try new things, to acknowledge if they haven’t worked and to learn the lessons from the attempt."

Tim Montgomerie