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A few thoughts before Christmas

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil Service Learning, Civil Service Reform, Digital

Winter weather has arrived, the shops are packed to the rafters and brightly-coloured knitwear is back in fashion. It can only mean one thing: Christmas is well and truly here. But before everyone heads off for a few days of festive fun and well-earned rest, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on the last twelve months. There is a lot to be proud of and we have made good progress in some key areas, but some big challenges do lie ahead for 2014.


A key part of building a world class Civil Service  is making sure that all civil servants have the skills they need to excel in their jobs. The launch of our Capabilities Plan in April is a big step forward, setting out in one place the blueprint for improving our performance in four priority areas: digital, commercial, project management and leadership of change. We have revamped the learning and development tools available to make sure they really focus on these important skills, and I am pleased to say that 72% of you have completed the Civil Service Learning ‘self-assessment’ tool to help to identify which of these are most relevant you. Please do visit the Civil Service Learning website and begin planning your learning and development activity for 2014.


This year we also made transparency and improving the accountability of Government services a real priority and I am really encouraged by the progress we have made. So far we have published over 9,000 sets of data from local crime statistics to GP performance, and we have also been working with the Open Data Institute to help businesses to use public sector data to create new products and services. Throughout 2013 the UK also took a lead role in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a grouping of 58 countries and civil society organisations which asks governments to become more accountable by increasing public access to information. Where open data is concerned we are world leaders – Government has never been so transparent and I want us to build on this over the next year.


And no round-up of 2013 would be complete without a nod to the success of GOV.UK. GOV.UK’s 1.2 billion page views in its first year is a quite remarkable statistic, and all those involved with its setup should feel very proud. As I mentioned in a previous blog, we’ve also been making good progress with colleagues in 8 departments and 14 agencies to transform 25 of the highest volume, highest profile services across Government. In 2014 I want us to make great strides where digital capability is concerned – to help more people get online, to digitise more government services and to make interaction with these services more user friendly and efficient than ever before. GOV.UK shows that we have the talent and the vision amongst our ranks to make this a reality.

Next year

2014 is the year that we will become more skilled, more digital and more unified, and I will begin the New Year by saying more about this. The big focus will be on implementation and, in particular, the ‘game changers’. We will be strengthening our functional leadership, further opening the policy-making process, modernising our workplaces, working to deliver major projects on time and defining our vision for the future of the Civil Service. These changes will impact on all civil servants’ work as we continue to improve our organisation. For now, though, I would like to wish all colleagues a very Merry Christmas and to say thank you for all that you do.

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  1. Comment by Andrew Preston posted on

    I wanted to say that as a DFID staff member currently working in an Embassy I welcome all moves towards a single HMG platform. I'd like us to make progress on this front with IT. I hope we will prioritise investment in our core IT capacity, to ensure we are as effective and as efficient as possible.

    I also wanted to flag that on the GOV.UK website, volume of use is not necessarily the best measure. I've had feedback from civil society partners that they find the site much harder to navigate than the DFID website they used to access.

  2. Comment by Gerard Rowen posted on

    I'm sure that the thousands of colleagues who have worked as normal during this period would join me in letting you know how happy they were knowing you were able to get away for a few days of festive fun and well earned rest.
    Its not really suprising that engagement scores, particularly in my own Department, are so low when examples of just how detatched from the real work our leaders have become continue to be so thoughtlessly provided.

    All the very best for the New Year.

  3. Comment by JJ Derbyshire posted on

    Happy New Year; I hope you enjoyed the festive season.

    Like many others, I often think about opportunities for career development and progression at the start of a new year.

    I'm therefore curious about the recent increasing trend of jobs being advertised on civil service jobs which are only available to selected departments. I give you an example from a job alert email I received today:

    1393130 032/14 First Secretary, Competition, State Aid & Company Law, Brussels, G7/D6, BIS, DECC & HMT Only

    1392409 023/14 Head, Syria Programmes, Syria Office, Istanbul, G7/D6, Not open to TP, DFID & MOD ONLY

    1392355 020/14 First Secretary Budget, UKrep Brussels G7/D6 Not open to temporary promotion HMT ONLY

    1391821 004/14 First Secretary, Migration & Asylum, UKRep Brussels G7/D6 OPEN TO HOME OFFICE STAFF ONLY

    1392234 012/14 Head of NATO Operations & Intelligence Team, UK Joint Delegation NATO G7/D6 MOD Only

    Outgoing loans are also so difficult to secure these days and both of these policies are designed to restrict movement. However, I think one of the biggest perks of being a civil servant employee is the breadth of the work undertaken by government and the opportunities this offers in terms of broadening knowledge and skillsets. I therefore find it disappointing this perk seems to be slowly eroded.

    What are your views on this?