So how might some of those water company bosses rate the minister’s end of year report scores?
Well, if for Gove we read Defra, then until recently they are likely to have viewed his term quite positively, certainly with the traction he has achieved on some key green issues affecting their industry, such as wet wipes.
Even his blasting of chief executives at Water UK’s conference was accepted by many there as the wake-up call the sector needed. Few were caught off guard by his warnings to those businesses using “opaque” offshore arrangements, either – with most of these “toxic” entities already in the process of being wound down.
More recently, though, the mood-music has been shifting – particularly with his backing for Ofwat’s follow-up plans for reform.
There is fear that the move could hit investor returns at some highly-geared companies, and concern too that companies will be asked to justify those returns.
So perhaps the first report question should ask whether water bosses want him to stay.
Yes, appears the general view, especially as any replacement is unlikely to rip up current agreements with the regulator.
And those scores?
When it comes to his shaping the agenda and shifting the parameters of the sector, then you would have to give him a 9 out of 10, one industry source said. Whether that will lead to an overall positive outcome for water companies is harder to call.
Balancing the financial impact he’s had so far on their businesses, against some of the welcome focus he’s brought to the environment, would probably land him a solid 7.
Next year’s impacts are tougher to predict, as is whether he will even stick around at the department to see all the changes through (given his track record at the Department for Eduction, for example).
But if he does, then water companies should brace themselves to hear his appraisal of their progress.
At a guess it will be: “Must try harder”.