Government publishes senior civil service salaries - just before CSR

Apparently there are 4,254 directors in the public sector. Although from next week, that's going to drop substantially.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Round two of the Government’s attempt at exposing Whitehall to scrutiny has come and gone with a surprisingly small amount of fanfare this afternoon, with the publication of an ‘organogram’ (a jargon-tastic synonym for ‘org chart’) of the structure of Whitehall departments, complete with the salary details (plus names – and, in some cases, contact details) of any civil servant earning more than £82,900. It’s interesting timing, given that the Government may very shortly be getting rid of some of the people named in the report – but apparently, it’s all in aid of greater transparency...

According to the report, there are 4,254 civil servants with a ‘director’ (or more senior) job title. The average salary for a senior civil servant is £78,088 – a good deal more than the average of £22,850 across the civil service as a whole. In HMRC, there are nearly 14,000 people working in the customer services department (difficult to believe when you’re on hold for half an hour trying to fill in your tax return), compared to just 129 on central policy, while the corporation tax and VAT department has just 755 people, compared to the 6,295 in the benefits section. Which rather shows where HMRC’s priorities lie…

But while the data has been published by 18 departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions, BIS and the Cabinet Office (which is surprisingly comprehensive – even including the Prime Minister’s phone number), some have been less eager to provide what could end up being cannon fodder for some of the less tactful tabloids. Apparently, there’s been a lot of wrangling behind the scenes – certain departments have ‘not grasped the importance of the project’, according to a blog by the Telegraph's Benedict Brogan. Given the likely reactions, we don’t really blame them.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has defended the project, saying it gives ‘an unrivalled insight into the way Government works’ – but unions are, naturally, a little worried that it could be used as a way to make the public sector look ‘bloated’. And with the Government spending cuts (and thousands of redundancies) mere days away, that’s a pretty sensitive area at the moment. Still – the Government is insistent that it’s all in the name of transparency. And who could argue with that?

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