Page last updated at 02:50 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Civil service recruiting attacked

Office computer
The government says it is using technology to improve recruitment

Civil service recruitment is too costly and too slow, the Whitehall spending watchdog has suggested.

A National Audit Office report said it typically took 16 weeks to recruit a new civil servant, with internal costs of between 556 and 1,921.

It estimated that it should be possible to cut costs by 68%, saving 35m a year across Whitehall.

The government said it was working to reduce recruitment costs and bring more openness to the system.


In its report, the NAO said that between 14% and 52% of civil service recruits left within a year of being taken on.

It added: "Staff costs are too high, the length of time taken to recruit is too long, and the quality of recruitment needs to be improved."

For the Conservatives, shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, said: "It is unfair that central government jobs are being hidden from the public.

"It's time to open up Whitehall's closed job shop. Making greater use of the internet will save money, expose unnecessary bureaucracy and ensure healthy competition in the job market."

Tory MP Edward Leigh, the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which oversees the work of the NAO, said: "Such an extraordinarily high departure rate raises a big question about the quality of the process used to recruit them."

But a Cabinet Office spokesman said: "The civil service advertises widely and runs panel interviews to make the recruitment process fair and open, and security-checks all new staff for obvious reasons.

"Despite this, our recruitment costs are already in line with the private sector average and we are working to reduce them further, for example by using the internet to make our practices more effective and efficient."

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