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Civil Service Quarterly

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

I hope you all enjoyed the Easter break and managed to take some time off work.

I spent part of my break reading the latest edition of Civil Service Quarterly. If you are not aware of Civil Service Quarterly, it is a publication that showcases innovative work by civil servants.

In this edition there are some great examples of the Civil Service being more digital, more unified and working together across departmental silos to deliver the best for the public and to build a stronger Civil Service. I thought I would highlight a couple of these for you.

Selvin Brown’s article, entitled “Joining up to transform lives”, shows how Social Justice Month has brought eight government departments together to look for more opportunities for joined-up working and to see how their work is turning the lives of Britain’s most disadvantaged individuals and families around. This is an excellent illustration of how departments are working more collaboratively to deliver the best for the public and we need to do more of it!

My second example comes from Gerard Grech who has written about a recent hackathon run by Tech City and the Civil Service. His article demonstrates how our digital agenda and the opening up of government data can deliver amazingly innovative services. If you have not come across the term ‘hackathon’, it is a gathering of software developers and computer programmers who meet for a dedicated stretch of time to pool their expertise together to work on a specific project to build or enhance services and applications. Gerard explains how the UK’s digital community came together to develop innovative technical solutions in response to February’s floods.

These are just two examples of how Civil Service Reform is being brought to life by the ambition, energy and drive of civil servants to deliver the best for Britain and this edition of Civil Service Quarterly contains many more which I encourage you all to read. One of the great things about Civil Service Quarterly is that any civil servant can write for the publication so it is a fantastic way for us to share and celebrate success.

I look forward hearing more examples of greater collaboration and excellence in the next Civil Service Quarterly which will be published in July.

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  1. Comment by Miles Nelson posted on

    You are not going to build a strong Civil Service until you abandon stack ranking, or as we know it, PMR. I understand reviews will be carried out, some time after the second year of PMR is well under way. It will be too late. The damage to morale and to management/jobholder relations has been done. Why do we take up ideas, and mediocre ones at that, just as the corporate world is abandoning them? Is the intention that we will become more like the "real world", more competitive, more efficient? Why then is the real world (Microsoft, for example) giving up the experiment, having recognised how destructive it is? There are no safeguards in place, just HR and union reps struggling to keep up with an unprecedented level of discontent.

  2. Comment by man with no name posted on

    Sir Bob, Innovation is great and i'm all for it, but please lets not run before we can walk. I just want current systems that are upto the job and actualy work and that are robust and reliable, that would be a good start. (P.s and no more system timing outs and use of multple passwords as these serioulsy interupt workflow conitnuity, especialy on telephony). not meant as a negative just constructive feedback I hope. much appreaciated,ta.

  3. Comment by Fed up posted on

    I find your blog exhausting,you consistently ignore your staffs concerns and right dismissive comments to acknowledge them.

    You then go on to write that you have spent your time off reading a civil service blog. Really?

    You seem so out of touch with the reality of how normal civil servants work and struggle to live.

    The whole system seems to be designed in a way that if you ignore us the problems will go away. for example the intanet in DWP has now had the dislike button removed and only positive comments posted. Everyone is always pictured smiling and happy,this is just not hte case as the staff survey has confirmed.

    Again though that was ignored....

  4. Comment by Mary posted on

    Sir Bob,

    For many of us at the 'coal face', 'Civil Service Reform' merely seems to be an excuse for all of our terms and conditions to be slowly trashed.


  5. Comment by Darknorth posted on

    If bad news is either ignored or seen as a 'negative behaviour' then warning signs will be ignored, and the future for the Civil Service begins to look bleak. Very bleak.

  6. Comment by Dave posted on

    Bob, You appear to suffer from selective deafness. You hear the positive feedback very clearly, when it comes to these good news stories or what you were told, by persons unknown, about PMR, for example. You don't appear to hear the negative feedback, which far outweighs it. Why is that I wonder?

  7. Comment by Miles Nelson posted on

    Sir Bob

    I've left several comments on your blog, though the last one seems to have been moderated out. I'm angry and demoralised to the point that I'm worried about my health, but let's put that aside.

    There is disquiet and demoralisation running very deep within the Civil Service at the moment. It is profound and it is unprecedented. It is about powerlessness, unfairness, and a quickly developing distrust about the current mechanisms of management. Rather than a leaner, fitter Civil Service, you will get a smaller, more bitter, less motivated one. Unless you do something about PMR now, before the problems are perpetuated for another year, this can only get worse. So much damage has already been done and leisurely reviews will not undo that.

    You will continue to find that when you highlight issues which you may be quite right to celebrate, you will be deluged by complaints about PMR, because these celebrations are just rubbing salt in open wounds and your upbeat assessment is just not one that we recognise. I know nothing about you, but I hear mainly good things, so I assume that you could only wish to get to the bottom of this problem.

  8. Comment by R posted on

    PMR Moderation is not an issue which will go away until it's addressed properly. I work for the Home Office and the guidance that my unit has just received is as follows "There is now no flexibility on the top 20%/ mid 70%/ Lower 10%. These outcomes must be met by each Directorate, where possible at each grade." Guided distribution? I don't think so. I wonder if anyone in authority would like to comment or will we get the usual deafening silence?

    • Replies to R>

      Comment by John posted on

      "So it’s an essential part of any leader in the Civil Service to listen to what

      colleagues are telling us and to respond to them."

      A direct quote from Alex Aitken-Executive Director of Government Communications in his recent intranet article.

      When will you address the concerns of over 500 respondants regarding PMR Sir Bob?

      • Replies to John>

        Comment by Gareth posted on


        The 500 respondents are not really his "colleagues". The "colleagues" are the select group of Senior Civil Servants that toe the party line and keep giving him the "positive feedback" about the PMR that he mentions.

        There will not be any discord amongst the courtiers in the Ivory Castle.

  9. Comment by Jimbo posted on

    Good morning Sir Bob

    Hey ho, another day, another blog. I'm sure that Civil Service Quarterly is a riveting read, but we are now two months down the line and you still haven't "addressed our concerns" about PMR.

    The staff respectfully request that you now attend to this matter.


  10. Comment by Tony posted on

    Sir Bob

    I'm beginning to think you could'nt care less about your staffs concerns.

    Tell me it ain't so!

  11. Comment by Mark posted on

    Sir Bob

    It's been 2 months since you were made aware of the systematic and widespread failure to operate the PMR system according to guidance and the use of enforced quotas through your blog.

    As you haven't directly commented on these failure nor have the individual departments, are you condoning this abuse of the PMR system? Do you support the implementation of enforced quotas, contrary to guidance?

  12. Comment by Miles Nelson posted on

    I see people have pretty much given up bothering with this medium. I suppose you can believe for a time that senior people haven't appreciated the concerns of staff and that they will wake up to the situation. After a while you reluctantly conclude that they know full well what is going on and actually don't care: the political imperative is everything, the welfare of staff something to which you can pay lip service. I don't think I'll waste my time here any more.

  13. Comment by Aarti posted on

    Dear Sir Bob,

    I am writing to you to seek clarfication on Civil Service Live 2014.

    I have been informed by management that Civil Service Live is predominantly for managers and team leaders. I would be grateful if you would confirm if this the case, and that employees who do not manage staff are unable to attend. I was under the impression that the event is for all civil servants - managers and non-managers.

    I look forward to your response.