Public Leadership Perspectives Series: Civil Service: Leadership into the long-term

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 17:30 to 20:30

Click here to view the presentation

Here is the speech given by Bernard Jenkin MP

Here is the speech from Stella Manzie

The Civil Service plays a crucial role in the functioning of Government, supporting the development and the implementation of its policies, in addition to its role in operational delivery. The history of democratic governance in Britain owes a great deal to the hard work and integrity of our Civil Service.  It is overall a hugely successful organisation.  


Nevertheless, as will be the case in any organisation of its size, the governance and functioning of the Civil Service do have weaknesses. These include low levels of trust, a dearth of long-term thinking, insufficient coordination across departments, skills gaps in some areas and not enough focus on professional development. These weaknesses hinder the ability of the Civil Service to plan for the long-term, address system-wide risks and opportunities, develop talent and learn from past mistakes.  


Important steps are being taken to address these weaknesses. For example, the Civil Service Reform Plan helped the Civil Service to enhance skills and performance, improve the management of resources and increase accountability. The Civil Service Workforce Plan, published earlier this year, is aiming to further improve the skills, diversity and inclusiveness of the Civil Service. Policies have also sought to better confront long-term challenges on a cross-government basis, including through Whole of Government Accounts to deepen understanding of matters such as the £2,893 billion of long-term liabilities of Government, and the establishment of the Cabinet Office’s horizon scanning scheme.


However, if the Civil Service is to be as efficient and effective as possible, efforts must continue.  These should include endeavours to promote a culture that encourages continuous improvement (through the promotion of values, work to increase trust and changes to attitudes and behaviour), in addition to further work to promote professional development and to increase long-term and cross-governmental planning. This will be vital if efficiency and effectiveness are to be increased and if a commitment to continuous improvement is to prevail.


Church House Conference Centre,
Deans Yard,