Miliband urges radical change

The Foreign Secretary has announced a radical change in the way the Foreign Office will be run.

Addressing a gathering of 160 ambassadors at the annual Leadership Conference ahead of a major reshuffle this April, David Miliband announced a reallocation of resources to refocus the organisation.

The strategic responsibilities of the FCO will be slimmed down to those areas where it can really add value, such as resolving and preventing conflict, improving international institutions, working towards a low-carbon, high-growth global economy and serving British citizens better overseas.

Other Whitehall departments will in future be expected to take over priorities where they have better expertise. For instance, the Department of Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS) will now be responsible for maintaining Britain’s international network of science attachés.

The FCO established its science and innovation network in 2000 “in response to the growing importance of science, technology and innovation for [the UK’s] future”. Its science attachés, based in 22 countries, use science to forge international links, influence policy, and attract investment to the UK.

Behind the scenes, some FCO officials suspect the reprioritising exercise is not merely to sharpen focus but to save money.