Some will say it is a waste of money when the break-up of the UK is far from guaranteed and there are many more pressing demands on the public purse.
Others might argue that it is an abuse of the civil service to use them in pursuit of what remains a divisive political goal. That would be unfair, however, in this instance.
The SNP won the last election – and won it handsomely – on a manifesto pledging to pursue independence. We have been promised a referendum on the issue within the next three-and-a-half years.
Although this newspaper thinks independence is not the right way forward, it is only right in these circumstances that proper preparations are made for that eventuality.
Like the convention that ensures opposition leaders meet with senior civil servants before an election, this is just a practical step towards ensuring an orderly handover of powers, should Scottish voters back that dramatic step.
And it is in everyone’s interests – both unionist and nationalist – that lots of work is done in the coming months to thrash out the details about what an independent Scotland might look like.
At the moment, there are still too many unanswered questions and the civil servant dubbed “Director General for Independence” should be able to help fill in the gaps.
So long as this isn’t the start of the creation of an expensive and well-manned “Department for Independence” at St Andrews House, paid for by cuts elsewhere, we can live with this decision.
billy Robertson’s plight, stuck in the ERI when he could be leading a more independent life in a new home, must infuriate him and his family.
It is cruel enough that he has been struck down with motor neurone disease at the age of 52 without his life being limited still further by shortcomings in his care.
Billy has been waiting five weeks for social services to draw up a care package for him – and until then he is not allowed to leave hospital even though he no longer needs treatment. He has a home to go to but cannot move until the paperwork is sorted out.
It is particularly worrying to see such delays now – when the worst of the public sector spending cuts are yet to hit home north of the Border.