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.
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.