Permanent secretary Derek Jones may have been criticising the Welsh Assembly Government when he said wanted an organisation that was "restless" to do better.
Mr Jones heads the 5,000-strong civil service in Wales responsible for carrying out ministers' policies.
Public spending cuts have reduced numbers by a fifth, and the financial climate has had an effect, he said.
Speaking in a rare interview, he told BBC Wales:
"I think particularly over the period of austerity budgeting, there's been a tendency to lock things down, and good intentions to be prudent with public money.
"But I think it has also had the effect of hampering some of our decisiveness, and I want managers to manage and take responsibility for their decisions."
A number of controls had already been removed aimed at making the government more decisive and agile, he added.
It could well be that he was referring the Civil Service rather than the Assembly Government. but it does look at at the very least a veiled statement that Ministers need to do better.
I havent sen the new series of Yes Prime Minister but I can't imagine Sir Humphrey Appleby or his real life counterparts at Westminster talking about either the Civil Service or the Goverment in such a fashion to the media. At least not whilst still in the Job.
It does lok that Senior Civil Servants still regard the Assembly as bit of a upstart.
Normally I would welcome criticism of Carwyn and his gang . But would someone like Dereck Jones have criticised Westminster Department in such a manner?
If I was Carwyn Jones I would cal in Mr Jones and remind him that he advises on policybut its not him in the driving seat and his role his to anonymously carry his duties