“Opening up Whitehall recruitment”, civil service style

So is the UK government opening central government job vacancies up to external applicants or not? That, after all, is what the new Coalition announced it would do just a week ago, when it said in its Programme for Government that:

We will open up Whitehall recruitment by publishing central government job vacancies online.

Sounds great, right? But then came this morning’s Treasury press notice with details of the government’s first £6bn of spending cuts – and news of a total freeze in civil service recruitment. Specifically, it says:

The civil service recruitment freeze will apply across Government departments, agencies and NDPBs. The only exceptions will be for: the graduate Fast Stream which is already underway; individual business critical appointments, all of which will require authorisation from the Secretary of State; and key frontline posts, which will require the authorisation of the appropriate Chief Executive, with monthly updates provided to the appropriate Secretary of State, Permanent Secretary or Head of Department.

Now you might suppose that even if there’s a civil service recruitment freeze, existing civil servants will still be able to apply for new posts within their existing departments – unless of course the plan is also to suspend promotions, staff moving to overseas posts and so on. 

And indeed an official I’ve spoken today confirms that of course people will still move from one job to another within their departments.

But in that case, can someone please explain to me in what sense, exactly, the government is “opening up Whitehall recruitment”?