Katherine Kerswell, the former managing director of Kent CC, has been appointed to a key post in the civil service.
Ms Kerswell has been appointed director general for civil service reform in the Cabinet Office where she will work alongside the head of the civil service Sir Bob Kerslake. Her role will be to oversee the implementation of the civil service reform plan published in June.
“I am thrilled to join the civil service and contribute to such an important area of work as civil service reform,” Ms Kerswell told LGC. “I am particularly keen to build upon what I have learnt in local government about how to make change take root and really happen with urgency and pace.”
The appointment was made following an external competition and Ms Kerswell will be paid a salary of £142k.
Welcoming the appointment, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “The civil service reform plan which we published in June set out our first steps to reform the civil service to ensure it can effectively serve the government of the day. We have a long way still to go to sharpen accountability, collect consistent management information and improve how government runs its major projects.
“Katherine brings experience and expertise to this crucial role and I look forward to working with her as she implements the reform plan. We will continue to draw on ideas and insights from civil servants, senior officials and ministers as we work to improve the civil service.”
Reports earlier this summer claimed that Sir Bob had clashed with prime minister David Cameron’s recently departed strategy adviser Steve Hilton who wanted to see more radical reform of Whitehall, including further redundancies and the outsourcing of policy formation.
“Katherine is an accomplished leader with a track record of successful change management in the wider public sector,” Sir Bob said. “I know that her skills and experience will be ideally suited to the role.”
Ms Kerswell is also a forner chief executive of Northamptonshire CC where she made headlines by telling staff to think of the organisation as “strawberry flavoured”. Prior to that she was chief at Solihull MBC. She is also a non-executive director at the UK Border Agency.