Across the world over the last thirty years, the provision of policy advice to governments has been transformed as a diverse range of actors have been increasingly engaged in the policy-making process. Academic research needs to better understand the changes that have taken place by considering the shape of the new advisory systems, and the influence of different types of policy advice. In my latest research article in Policy & Politics, I seek to address this gap in understanding. The scholars Jonathan Craft and John Halligan developed the concept of a ‘policy advisory system’ to explain how policy advice is formulated by ‘interlocking actors’ beyond the formal bureaucracy of government. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) define policy advisory systems as the autonomous organisations – advisory bodies, think-tanks, policy labs, ‘what works’ centres, political advisers, committees of inquiry – that sustain government’s requirement for knowledge and expertise. Their growth has been observed particularly in the Anglophone countries – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the UK. Continue reading →
The UK Civil Service has long been regarded a bastion of white, middle class men, but there have been efforts to recruit a more diverse workforce in recent years. In this post Rhys Andrews and Rachel Ashworth assess the representativeness of Whitehall staff, in terms of gender, ethnicity and disability. They show that progress has been made in most departments, although there are still questions to be answered about the type of jobs that women, people from ethnic minorities and disabled people tend to hold.
In recent years policy-makers and politicians have been keen to encourage public organizations to become more diverse, especially within central government. For example, the shadow Cabinet Office Minister Michael Dugher recently stated that a future Labour government would ensure that a greater proportion of Fast Stream civil servants come from black and working class backgrounds. Government has sought to increase the representativeness of the civil service for two main reasons: firstly, so that it is more representative of society and can therefore be viewed as legitimate and, secondly to ensure that policies can generate outcomes that benefit all sections of society. Continue reading →