PESC: Past and Future
In the course of this narrative from the beginnings of ‘Plowdenry’ to early 1966, I have interspersed a great many comments, both those of the time and in retrospect. I shall not repeat them; and in this last chapter I shall try to look at PESC in historical and critical perspective. If the years of effort devoted to it since 1960 have been justified, the future will recognise it as one of the great historical reforms in the control and management of public expenditure, in the same line as the Exchequer and Audit Department Act of 1866, which brought together into one system the procedures of Estimate, Appropriation, Expenditure and Audit, and Sir Warren Fisher’s reform of 1920, that the Permanent Secretary of each department should be Accounting Officer, ensuring that responsibility for policy and responsibility for finance were inextricably linked together, and that control of finance was no longer an ‘outpost’ of the Treasury. If what (for the sake of convenient abbreviation) one may call the PESC system succeeds and survives, this will be seen as the point at which control was established over the public sector of the second half of the twentieth century — double the old ‘Supply’ and involving scores of institutions, from nationalised industries to local authorities to a great miscellany of public bodies. It is this survival power that is examined in this chapter.
KeywordsPublic Service Local Authority Central Government Public Expenditure Dual Task
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