What is the civil service for?

A flabbergasted Eddie McGrady MP was left pondering “Have we a civil service capable of doing their own job or are we paying through the nose for consultants to do everything for us?” after his parliamentary question revealed the consultants’ advice on water service changes will cost £18m. In 2004 the National Audit Office critised all NI departments for spending the same amount on consultants in one year, now the same will be spent on one project. All major reviews of the civil service have highlighted the need for greater policy expertise but such recommendations have been persistently ignored, with such escalating costs is it time to finally get around to implementing it?