The policy role of the civil service has traditionally been described with reference to the work of the senior civil servants who surround ministers, as the official filters and analysts of policy, and as the authors of papers setting out the options available for the political chiefs of government departments. Policy work can be categorised in different ways. One useful approach, adopted by Page and Jenkins (2005: 59–75) describes civil service policy work in terms of ‘production’ (creating drafts, statements or documents), ‘maintenance’ (looking after schemes, initiatives or bodies, with no clear end point for the work), and ‘service’ (providing advice to a person or institution, again on an ongoing basis). The Whitehall model assumes that the civil service exercises (or exercised) a virtual monopoly in the policy business, with ministers reliant on their senior officials as the researchers and writers of policy alternatives.
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