Reflections from an Ex-Vice President: The political / civil service divide


Image credit: Shutterstock; Illustration by POGO

The relationship between public servants and ministers is critical to sound, ‘evidence-based’ policy making. Ideally, in a Weberian public service, officials feel empowered to speak truth to power, and offer free and frank advice without fear of bullying or other adverse reprisals.

Sadly, as we have seen in both the UK and the US recently, this ideal often does not exist. Ministers want advice only if it fits their ideological prejudices, and public servants are cowed into silence or (reluctant) agreement.

Today we publish a short policy brief, written by Sandra Naranjo Bautista, former interim Vice President of Ecuador, Minister of Planning and Development, Minister of Tourism, and a Harvard School of Government alumni. The brief summarises her views on the different perspectives of ministers and officials. It is instructive (and a concise read, at approx. 6 minutes). Sadly though, not all ministers have degrees from the Harvard School of Government….

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