Good Lord, How Sensible!

So he resigns and then gets another job within a couple of weeks.Scandal? Actually, no, this looks eminently sensible:

A statement from the Cabinet Office stated that Mr Gray resigned from HMRC with immediate effect on 20th November.

It said: "However, for contractual reasons, he remains a senior civil servant. He will be leaving the civil service at the end of this year.

"In the meantime, he has agreed to a request from Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell to undertake a short piece of work on cross-government matters until Christmas.

"When he resigned with immediate effect, Paul Gray\’s period of notice meant that he would be paid until the end of the year.

"As a result, he could receive payment for no work, or receive payment for doing some work.

"It was thought to be better in the public interest that he did some work. There is no additional cost to the public purse. He will leave the payroll on 31 December."

Slight disconcerting to find that somewhere in the woodpile there\’s actually someone sensible.

10 comments on “Good Lord, How Sensible!

  1. Mr Gray resigned from his job at HMRC apparently because of his incompetent management. Will working for the Cabinet Office make him competent?

  2. Will,

    I thought he resigned because he was responsible for a department that made a hugely embarrassing error? That does not make him personally incompetent. Additionally, even if he were not competent to run a large government department, that doesn’t necessarily reflect on his ability to undertake a short piece of consulting or review work.

  3. “…in the Cabinet Office his incompetence will be less noticeable”

    The others will refer to him in hushed tones as ‘the smart one’…

  4. Surreptitious

    Mr Gray was responsible for overall organisation of HMRC. HMRC’s policies allowed widespread copying by junior employees of large amounts of confidential data and their transfer elsewhere by insecure means. Mr Gray either knew about this policy and endorsed it or he didn’t know about it. In the first case he’s directly incompetent ; in the second case his reporting, monitoring and staffing policies failed utterly. In either case he’s personally, not nominally or formally, incompetent by a considerable margin to run HMRC or any other large organisation. Does the Cabinet office need another incompetent? Surely all positions are taken.

  5. Let’s take a private sector comparison: a middle-manager gets away with widespread bullying of his underlings for years, because the CEO comes from a (very successful) sales background and is focused on the bottom line not on implementing strong HR procedures.

    Eventually the firm loses a massive discrimination lawsuit, and the CEO is sacked. Does that mean that the CEO is ‘an incompetent’ and hence shouldn’t be hired by another organisation to consult on their sales strategy?

  6. 1. Gray resigned because Darling wouldn’t: under the now defunct system of ministerial “responsibility”, it was the politician in charge who was formally responsible for departmental (in)competence.
    2. Why then did Gray resign if he wasn’t incompetent and/or wasn’t responsible? Because a rapid and (apparently) reasonable resignation looked as though it would save Darling and Brown: the deal was that Gray went, losing nothing materially, and Darling/Brown’s bacon would be saved.
    3. john b – by all means point out ludicrous “resignations” in the private sector but a) (unless I’m a shareholder – in which case I get a direct vote) it’s not my money and b) the Cabinet Office and HMR&C are different branches of the same firm.

  7. My point wasn’t about ludicrous private sector resignations. Rather, it was an example to suggest that, because someone has failed at part of their duty of being CEO, that doesn’t inherently mean that they can be written off as incompetent.

    If you made [e.g.] Tim CEO of a major bank, he’d probably not do a very good job, because that’s not his background or area of expertise. That doesn’t mean that a major bank would be wrong to hire him to advise on alternative energy investments…

    Tim adds: As it happens, anyone interested in a Greek extraction plant for a vital component of solid oxide fuel cells?

  8. John B

    In your example, your CEO shows that he doesn’t understand how to set priorities. He focusses on one small aspect of his job, fails to see how to make the whole thing work and consequently fails. As he’s unable to do the rather essential job of realising what’s actually important and acting accordingly, he shows a fundamental flaw which would undermine his work in almost any context.

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