Yet only six months ago, in June 2012, the government launched its blueprint for civil service reform, and promised more detail about how this would be implemented by the end of the year, points out Prospect's director of communications and research.
"For many civil servants, 2012 was characterised by uncertainty. Jobs continued to disappear, sometimes along with entire organisations, such as the Forensic Science Service. Specialist skills have been hollowed out in many areas.
"More cuts are to follow and, alongside this, a prolonged period of pay restraint appears to have become policy by stealth. At the same time, we are witnessing increasingly vocal criticism by ministers and their advisers of alleged curmudgeonly behaviour by civil servants."
Ferns argues that it is much easier to criticise the service than to work constructively with the many thousands of dedicated professionals within it, who against the odds retain a strong public service ethos.
She outlines several actions the government could take immediately to show it means what it says about positive reform.
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