Gus O'Donnell, Baron O'Donnell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Gus O'Donnell)
Jump to: navigation, search
The Right Honourable
The Lord O'Donnell
GCB FBA
Gus-bio-small.jpg
Cabinet Secretary
In office
1 September 2005 – 31 December 2011
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
David Cameron
Preceded by Andrew Turnbull
Succeeded by Sir Jeremy Heywood
Head of the Home Civil Service
In office
1 September 2005 – 31 December 2011
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
David Cameron
Preceded by Andrew Turnbull
Succeeded by Sir Bob Kerslake
Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office
In office
1 September 2005 – 31 December 2011
Minister John Hutton
Hilary Armstrong
Ed Miliband
Liam Byrne
Tessa Jowell
Francis Maude
Preceded by Andrew Turnbull
Succeeded by Ian Watmore
Permanent Secretary for the Treasury
In office
26 June 2002 – 2 August 2005
Chancellor Gordon Brown
Preceded by Andrew Turnbull
Succeeded by Nicholas Macpherson
Personal details
Born (1952-10-01) 1 October 1952 (age 62)
South London, United Kingdom
Alma mater University of Warwick
Nuffield College, Oxford
University of Glasgow
Religion Roman Catholicism

Augustine Thomas O'Donnell, Baron O'Donnell, GCB FBA (born 1 October 1952), is a former British senior civil servant and economist, who between 2005 and 2011 (under three Prime Ministers) served as the Cabinet Secretary, the highest official in the British Civil Service.

O'Donnell announced after the 2010 General Election that he would step down within that Parliament and did so at the end of 2011.[1][2] His post was then split into three positions: he was succeeded as Cabinet Secretary by Sir Jeremy Heywood, as Head of the Home Civil Service by Sir Bob Kerslake (in a part-time role), and as Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office by Ian Watmore.[3][4] Whilst Cabinet Secretary, O'Donnell was regularly referred to within the Civil Service, and subsequently in the popular press, as GOD; this was mainly because of his initials.[5] In 2012, O'Donnell joined Frontier Economics as a Senior Advisor.[6]

Background[edit]

O'Donnell was born and raised in south London.[7] Educated at Salesian College, Battersea, he read Economics at the University of Warwick before taking his M.Phil. degree at Nuffield College, Oxford. He gained a PhD from and was a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow in the Political Economy Department from 1975 until 1979, when he joined the Treasury as an economist.

In 1985, he joined the British Embassy in Washington, serving as the First Secretary of the Economics division for four years. In 1989 O'Donnell became Press Secretary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer before transferring next door to serve as Press Secretary to the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1994.

From 1997 to 1998, O'Donnell was the United Kingdom's Executive Director to both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, again in Washington, before returning to HM Treasury to serve as both Director of Macroeconomic Policy and Prospects and also Head of the Government Economics Service, with overall responsibility for the professional economists in Her Majesty's Government. A year later, in 1999, he was appointed Managing Director of Macroeconomic Policy and International Finance, with responsibility for Fiscal Policy, International Development, and European Union Economic and Monetary Union.

Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service[edit]

In 2002, O'Donnell took over from Sir Andrew Turnbull, now Lord Turnbull of Enfield, as Permanent Secretary of the Treasury when Sir Andrew became Cabinet Secretary. Three years later, on 15 June 2005, it was announced that O'Donnell would again replace Turnbull, this time as Cabinet Secretary, on the latter's retirement at the end of that summer. He took up office in September 2005.

O'Donnell is known for his "wondrous interpersonal gifts"[8] and his informal style. He regularly visits Civil Service departments outside London "to meet civil servants at work".[9]

The annual remuneration for this position is £235,000.[10]

In his role as Cabinet Secretary, O'Donnell was responsible for overseeing the review of Christopher Meyer's controversial memoirs, DC Confidential, in November 2005. The previous month he had told the Public Administration Select Committee that it was "wrong" for civil servants to publish personal memoirs.

Channel 4 News on 10 August 2010 had reported that O'Donnell would leave his post before the end of the current Parliament.[11]

In January 2011, it emerged that O'Donnell had decided not to publish correspondence sent between Tony Blair and George W Bush prior to the 2003 invasion. The papers were, however, provided to the Iraq Inquiry itself. His reasoning is explained in several documents between himself and Sir John Chilcot.[12]

In November 2010, O'Donnell published a draft copy of the Cabinet Manual. This document outlines the laws, rules and conventions that apply to the British executive.[13]

On 11 October 2011, it was announced by Downing Street that O'Donnell was to retire at the end of the year. His successor was announced as the Downing Street Permanent Secretary Jeremy Heywood.[14]

On 22 December 2011, O'Donnell said that the future of the Union is one of several "enormous challenges" facing the political establishment in the coming years. The admission from such a senior non-political figure that the break-up of Britain is now a real possibility is likely to push the issue up the political agenda. "Over the next few years there will be enormous challenges, such as whether to keep our kingdom united," he warns officials and politicians.[15]

Post Cabinet Secretary Life[edit]

In addition to being the chair of Frontier Economics,[16][17] O'Donnell is also visiting professor to the London School of Economics and University College London.[16][18] In 2014 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy. [19]

Peerage[edit]

On 10 January 2012, O'Donnell was created a life peer as Baron O'Donnell, of Clapham in the London Borough of Wandsworth, and was introduced in the House of Lords, where he sits as a crossbencher, on 12 January 2012.[20] In his first speech in the House of Lords, in June 2012, Lord O'Donnell warned that too many Treasury officials were leaving and that staff are underpaid, and that the Treasury may be struggling to address the problems caused by the ongoing global financial turmoil.[21]

Personal interests[edit]

O'Donnell is a keen sportsman, having played football for the University of Warwick First XI and for Oxford, earning two Blues in 1973/4 and 1974/5.[22] While Permanent Secretary at the Treasury he won a football medal at the annual Civil Service Sports Day - the first Permanent Secretary to do so. O'Donnell has played for the Mandarins Cricket Club for many years, the third Cabinet Secretary to do so (the others being Sir Robin Butler and Sir Andrew Turnbull). He is a keen supporter of Manchester United.[23]

In 2010, The Tablet named him as one of Britain’s most influential Roman Catholics.[24]

O'Donnell was formerly a Governor of his alma mater, Salesian College, Battersea. He has received several appointments to the Most Honourable Order of the Bath: He was appointed Companion (CB) in the 1994 New Year Honours,[25] Knight Commander (KCB) in the 2005 Birthday Honours[26] and Knight Grand Cross (GCB) in the 2011 Birthday Honours.[27] The Parliamentary Public Administration Committee cited the example of O'Donnell's appointments to the Order as automatic honours granted due to his position and not for exceptional service.[28]

Titles[edit]

  • Mr Gus O'Donnell (1952 - 1975)
  • Dr Gus O'Donnell (1975 - 1994)
  • Dr Gus O'Donnell, CB (1994 - 2005)
  • Sir Gus O'Donnell, KCB (2005 - 2011)
  • Sir Gus O'Donnell, GCB (2011 - 2012)
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord O'Donnell, GCB (2012–present)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sir Gus O’Donnell to leave after seeing in new Government, 10 August 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  2. ^ Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell stepping down, 11 October 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  3. ^ Number 10 – Cabinet Secretary announces retirement
  4. ^ Cabinet Office - Sir Bob Kerslake announced as new Head of the Civil Service
  5. ^ No wonder they call him God
  6. ^ "O'Donnell withdraws from BoE race", The Financial Times, 8 October 2012
  7. ^ Government Office for the South East Partners' Quarterly Newsletter. Issue 12 March 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
  8. ^ "The New Statesman Profile - Gus O'Donnell" 1998-11-27 Retrieved 2010-02-24
  9. ^ "Visits across the UK". Retrieved 2010-02-24.
  10. ^ "Top civil servant salary list published". Directgov. 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  11. ^ "Top civil servant Gus O'Donnell to quit" Channel 4 News 10 August 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Iraq Inquiry Letters published, 19th January 2011".
  13. ^ "Draft Cabinet Manual". Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  14. ^ "UK's top civil servant Sir Gus O'Donnell steps down". BBC News. 11 October 2011. 
  15. ^ Hope, Christopher (21 December 2011). "Sir Gus O'Donnell: The UK faces break-up". The Daily Telegraph. 
  16. ^ a b "Report calls for wellbeing to be at the heart of public policy design". LSE News Report. 20 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "Gus O'Donnell". Frontier Economics. 
  18. ^ "Gus O’Donnell and John Gieve to become Visiting Professors". UCL News Press. 16 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "British Academy announces 42 new fellows". Times Higher Education. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  20. ^ House of Lords Minute of Proceedings, 12 January 2012.
  21. ^ Lord O'Donnell: Treasury in danger of being 'swamped'. Telegraph. Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  22. ^ Andrew Cave, "List Ten: the public sector", The Daily Telegraph, 1 May 2008.
  23. ^ Simon Mullock, "Gus stands up for Football fans", Sunday Mirror, 10 April 2011, p. 54.
  24. ^ "The Tablet's Top 100". 
  25. ^ The London Gazette: no. 53527. p. 3. 30 December 1993. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  26. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57665. p. 2. 11 June 2005. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  27. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59808. p. 2. 11 June 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  28. ^ "Link to House of Commons Public Trust Honour System Page". Retrieved 24 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Bernard Ingham
10 Downing Street Press Secretary to John Major
1990–1994
Succeeded by
Christopher Meyer
Preceded by
Andrew Turnbull
Permanent Secretary for the Treasury
2002–2005
Succeeded by
Nicholas Macpherson
Cabinet Secretary
2005–2011
Succeeded by
Sir Jeremy Heywood
Head of the Home Civil Service
2005–2011
Succeeded by
Sir Bob Kerslake
Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office
2005–2011
Succeeded by
Ian Watmore