UK Politics

Former BP executive Manzoni gets top Whitehall job

The Cabinet Office building at 70 Whitehall
Image caption Mr Manzoni will have the right to attend cabinet meetings

Former BP executive John Manzoni has been appointed the first chief executive officer of the Civil Service.

In the new role, Mr Manzoni, who will start work this month, will oversee the administrative and commercial performance of government departments.

The position confers the right to attend meetings of the cabinet.

Mr Manzoni, who was chosen after an external competition, is currently head of the Major Projects Authority within the Cabinet Office.

As CEO of the civil service he will work alongside Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service, whose portfolio focuses on the implementation of policy decisions made by the government.

The roles of cabinet secretary and civil service head were split in 2012 but have been consolidated following the retirement of Sir Bob Kerslake.

'Sustainable agenda'

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who recently claimed that the UK "has the best civil servants in the world but not yet the best civil service", welcomed Mr Manzoni's appointment

Despite recent reforms, he said there was still "much more to do".

"Hardworking people expect us to spend their money carefully and this appointment will help us to do just that."

Prime Minister David Cameron added: "John's experience of business and the private sector puts him in the perfect position to accelerate the pace of these reforms in the years ahead."

Mr Manzoni said his priority was "building on the existing momentum to strengthen the execution muscle of Whitehall and embed a sustainable productivity agenda across government".

As CEO of the civil service, Mr Manzoni will take charge of:

  • accounting for and "getting the best deal" in commercial decisions made by government departments
  • leading digital reforms in public services
  • recruitment of new civil servants and training
  • maintaining and optimising government-owned property
  • major non-policy related projects
  • communication between departments

Mr Manzoni joined the civil service in February, as head of a cross-departmental unit which seeks to get better value for money from major government projects.

Previously, he was president of Canadian oil and gas company Talisman Energy and an executive at BP for 24 years.

The appointment was announced alongside a new report on the progress of civil service reform.

The report says that by April 2015, most senior civil service posts below the level of permanent secretary will be open to external candidates.

By mid-2016, senior civil servants who wish to apply for permanent secretary posts will be expected to have completed a leadership course at a tertiary-level business school.

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