Published on 11 Oct 2011

Another red as cabinet secretary

The announcement that Sir Gus O’Donnell’s is retiring as Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service at the end of this year comes as no surprise.  He’s due to reach 60 late next year – the traditional retirement age for civil servants – and planned to announce his retirement either late this year or early in 2012.

He has much in common with his successor as Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood.  Both are keen Manchester United fans – Heywood even lists it in Who’s Who – and they have long lived only a few streets apart in south London.  Indeed, in the days when they were high-flying civil servants together in the Treasury, they often used to travel in to work together on the Northern Line.  People have detected strains between the two men in recent years, though O’Donnell has always denied this.

Jeremy Heywood’s appointment as Cabinet Secretary will be a disappointment to other contenders.  Perhaps the most upset will be Sir Suma Chakrabarti, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice (and previously the top civil servant at DFID) who has long made no secret of the fact he wanted the top post.  Sir Suma may now be a contender for the position of Head of the Civil Service, under the new arrangements where Sir Gus’s old role is being split into two jobs again – Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service.  The new Head of the Civil Service will combine their work with running a single government department.

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2 reader comments

  1. Philip says:

    And when did splitting the post last work successfully? The Cabinet Secretary has all the power, the Head of the Civil Service is like the man with the dustpan & brush behind the muck-cart. If Suma Chakrabarti has any sense, he’ll avoid the job like the plague.
    You can tell that the Civil Service has really changed when every Cabinet Secretary is still ex-Treasury & PM’s private office.

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