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Managing Change

The Evolving Role of Top Public Servants

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Recent reforms have put tremendous new demands on the people at the top of the public service. Almost everywhere the emphasis is on doing “more, and better, with less”. This study is an inquiry into how permanent secretaries around the Commonwealth see their jobs. It is based on extensive interviews and surveys of senior officials in over twentyfive Commonwealth countries.

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Conclusion

At its most fundamental level, the role of the permanent secretary has not changed. The permanent secretary remains the key link between the democratic process (the political level) and the public service. The three primary functions involved - policy adviser to the minister, head of a government department, and member of the overall corporate team for the public service - remain the core responsibilities of the permanent secretary.

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