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Worst Performing Civil Servants May Be Fired in U.K. Shakeup

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June 19 (Bloomberg) -- The worst-performing 10th of British civil servants risk being fired under plans outlined by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

Performance reviews will see the top 25 percent and the bottom 10 percent of senior officials identified, and those at the bottom will be axed unless they show “real improvement,” according to the plans published in London today. A similar appraisal system is already being introduced for grades below senior civil servants.

“A frequent complaint of civil servants themselves concerns performance management,” Maude said a statement to Parliament today. “They feel that exceptional performance is too often ignored and poor performance is not rigorously addressed.”

The British Civil Service stays in place whoever wins elections, and has been satirized for obstructing politicians by comedy series such as “Yes, Minister.” Maude, who is in charge of overseeing the way government works, said he wanted it to be less hierarchical.

“To improve decision making we need better management information and greater accountability,” Maude said. “And we are responding to the concerns of civil servants by transforming performance management and career development in what will be a more corporate civil service.”

The planned shakeup comes as the civil service undergoes cuts that will see its workforce reduced to 380,000 by 2015 from about 500,000, part of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s efforts to tackle Britain’s budget deficit.

Jon Trickett, the opposition Labour Party lawmaker who shadows Maude in Parliament, asked whether the government also planned to “name and shame the poorest ministers.”

“It doesn’t need to because the court of public opinion has already passed its verdict,” he said. “And does he believe the chancellor of the exchequer should be placed in special measures” given that the economy has slipped back into recession, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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