After lecturing in statistics at Glasgow University, James Cuthbert joined the United Kingdom civil service in 1974, and worked in statistics in the Scottish Office and the Treasury. He was latterly Scottish Office Chief Statistician. After leaving the civil service in 1997, he has pursued a number of interests, including research and consultancy. His research is particularly in the areas of Scotland's public finances and the Scottish economy, and in certain aspects of purchasing power parities. Particular interests have been in the analysis of government expenditure and revenues in Scotland, the performance of PFI schemes, and developing alternatives to current models for utility charging.