ELECDEM - Training Network in Electoral Democracy

This research will show the effects of appointing new chief executives in central government executive agencies, and how these effects are achieved. Chief executives are an important group of officials in central government, managing and accounting for a large part of central government operations, from services for job seekers, road traffic users, border control and aspects of criminal justice. The executive agencies employ about 60 per cent of all civil servants and have £18b per year direct costs.  On average about 1 in 4 agency chief executives change each year; the costs and benefits this entails have not been studied systematically. Our research fills this gap.

Our research will initially consist of building the quantitative data base of chief executive successions and performance outcomes for central government executive agencies in England and UK wide agencies. This will entail using data sources including annual reports and Civil Service Yearbook to obtain the names of all chief executives our time and their previous employment. We will code all year-on-year changes in agency mission statements. We will gather the administrative costs incurred in year for each agency for the agencies’ annual reports. To examine agency effectiveness, we will code the percentage of ministerially agreed performance targets that are achieved by each agency in each year and examine media reporting of performance.

Through peer-reviewed publications and policy papers, out research will inform both the community of scholars and the larger public about the circumstances in which chief executive successions increase the economy or enhance the effectiveness of central government operations. In addition, we will disseminate directly to policy makers in the UK and internationally, notably in the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, National Audit Office and other agencies including through the UK Agency Chief Executives Association. 

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