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Proposed Civil Service reforms substantially raise risk of corruption

Responding to reports that the Government is proposing to change the way that senior civil servants are appointed, Transparency International UK today warned that this could substantially raise the risk of corruption at the heart of government.

Chandu Krishnan, Executive Director, said “Proposals to replace senior civil servants each time a government changes opens the door to abuse and risks exacerbating the problem of the so called 'revolving door' between government and business. In many countries, the first step towards corrupting the civil service is to politicise senior appointments, which leads to cronyism, patronage, and conflicts of interest.

“Our recent research has shown that the revolving door is already a problem in the UK because democracy can be compromised in both directions: as special interest groups and corporate lobbyists seek to place their people in the heart of government, and as those with insider information take their knowledge and contacts to their next corporate employers.”

He added “Any such change in the UK civil service, which has a generally good reputation for high ethical standards and professionalism, is fraught with corruption risk and it should not be allowed to slip in through the back door. The Government's first priority should be to develop a water-tight system for regulating the revolving door and any proposed changes to the way senior civil servants are appointed should be put out for public consultation so that their implications can be properly understood and evaluated.”

Notes to editors

  1. Transparency International UK (TI-UK) has published two papers on the Revolving Door: Cabs for Hire (2011) and the TI-UK Policy Paper: Fixing the Revolving Door Between Government and Business
  2. On 25 July 2011, Parliament’s Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) published a report on the rules which govern the revolving door. The report made some strong recommendations, including a call for the abolition of the body which currently advises ministers and senior civil servants on post-government business appointments.
  3. A 2011 TI-UK report, Corruption in the UK, revealed that 65.5% of the British public believe political parties to be 'affected by corruption'; 41.9% of the public believe the civil service to be affected by corruption.

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