Press release

Chief executive for civil service appointed

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Top appointment to drive efficiency across Whitehall and improve execution throughout the civil service.

John Manzoni, the current head of the Major Projects Authority (MPA), and previously Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Talisman and BP Downstream, was today appointed by the Prime Minister to the new position of Chief Executive of the Civil Service.

The new chief executive will have executive control over the key functions that make government as a whole work more efficiently and improve Whitehall’s ability to deliver. These include getting a better deal for taxpayers from commercial decisions, the digital transformation of public services, ensuring we have the best people with the right skills in the civil service, and managing major projects better. He will work very closely with the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Jeremy Heywood, and the Treasury to accelerate the government’s efficiency and reform agenda and civil service transformation.

Today’s announcement comes alongside a new progress report on civil service reform. The pace of reform has accelerated in the last year. Much has been achieved but more needs to be done to build a modern organisation that will deliver the best for Britain in the 21st century.

The new civil service reform progress report says that more people from outside the civil service will be brought in to address skills gaps, with more training and support for existing civil servants. By April 2015, there will be a new presumption that senior civil service appointments below permanent secretary level should be open to external candidates. Civil servants applying for permanent secretary posts will be expected – and after summer 2016 required – to have completed an appropriate business school leadership course before taking up an appointment, ensuring that leadership skills are prioritised for the top management posts in the civil service.

Prime Minister, David Cameron said:

As part of our long-term economic plan, we have cut the costs of Whitehall and improved the way government is run. But the job of changing our country is far from done.

This is why I am delighted to appoint John Manzoni as the first Chief Executive of the Civil Service. 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.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude said:

John is an excellent choice as the first Chief Executive of the Civil Service. Last year alone our Whitehall reforms helped save taxpayers £14.3 billion compared to a 2009 to 2010 baseline. But there’s much more to do to accelerate the pace of reform and embed a new, more efficient approach to government. Hardworking people expect us to spend their money carefully and this appointment will help us do just that.

Commenting on his new role, John Manzoni said:

I am excited to take up this post at the heart of government at this crucial time. My priority is building on the existing momentum to strengthen the execution muscle of Whitehall and embed a sustainable productivity agenda across government. I look forward to playing my part in leading the civil service along with Francis Maude and Jeremy Heywood.

The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Sir Jeremy Heywood said:

I am very pleased that John will be the first Chief Executive of the Civil Service. John brings with him a strong private sector performance culture and long experience of running complex businesses that require the full range of commercial, specialist, digital and delivery skills. We have all been impressed by John’s leadership of the Major Projects Authority since he joined the Cabinet Office earlier this year.

John Manzoni was chosen following an external competition which highlighted his proven track record in running large, complex, commercial organisations and his reputation for creative strategic thinking and a focus on results.

John will act as the most senior permanent secretary responsible for driving the efficiency programme, sitting on the Civil Service Board, attending Cabinet and supporting the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service in performance managing the other Whitehall permanent secretaries. He will work with permanent secretaries across government to ensure that reforms are implemented with pace and rigour.

A former president and CEO of Canadian oil and gas company Talisman Energy Inc., John has more than 30 years’ experience in the private sector, including 24 years at BP, where he contributed to its global growth and held senior strategic and operational leadership roles at global, regional and local level.

Background notes

John Manzoni will take up post on Monday 13 October 2014.

John joined the Cabinet Office in February this year as Chief Executive of MPA.

Prior to this he was president and CEO of the major Canadian oil and gas company Talisman Energy Inc.

In the BP Group he served in both direct line management and functional leadership roles in the UK and overseas. Between 2002 and 2007, he was Chief Executive, Refining and Marketing, spanning 6 different businesses across more than 100 countries. He was a member of the BP plc main board from 2003 to 2007.

The chief executive will support and challenge departmental permanent secretaries to ensure that the government’s operational delivery, reform and programme priorities are implemented with pace and rigour.

He will have executive control over the key functions that make government as a whole work more efficiently. These include:

  • getting a better deal for taxpayers from commercial decisions and supplier management
  • the digital transformation of public services and the way government works
  • ensuring we have the best people with the right skills throughout the civil service
  • making better use of the government estate (property)
  • managing major projects better to deliver on time and on budget
  • greater use of shared services across departments

He will support the Cabinet Secretary in managing the performance of the departmental permanent secretaries and ensuring that their delivery objectives are met, with an input into each permanent secretary’s performance appraisal.

As the senior permanent secretary responsible for driving the efficiency and reform programme, the chief executive will sit on the Civil Service Board and represent the civil service internally and externally, including with Parliamentary committees.

A replacement at the MPA will be announced in due course.