This website examines the structure, skills and effectiveness of the UK Civil Service.
Working in Whitehall can be great fun, and very rewarding. It is good to work to improve the lives of fellow citizens, you get to influence important decisions, and you get to meet some fascinating people, a good number of them within the civil service. But new arrivals discover that they are subject to a bewildering mixture of rules, procedures and guidance, whilst at the same time they find it very difficult to obtain basic advice about how to do their job. The main aim of this website is therefore to provide a thorough introduction to the duties, responsibilities and working practices of Whitehall officials. It also contains detailed information about civil service numbers, pay, pensions etc. as well as a great deal of advice for new recruits.
You will also find a detailed history of civil service reform, together with much comment and analysis. Other sections focus on specific subjects such as policy making, Special Advisers and Ministerial Directions. There is also a large online library. Scroll down this page to access all areas of the site.
FACTS & STATS
This part of the website provides essential factual information about the UK Civil Service accessed through the links below. Whilst reading these web pages, please bear in mind that the UK Civil Service is much more narrowly defined than in most other countries. Only 1.4% of all employees (8% of public sector employees) are civil servants.
IMPARTIALITY, ACCOUNTABILITY & all that
This section describes the duties and responsibilities of civil servants within the British 'Westminster Model' of Government.
This part of the website summarises what every Whitehall official needs to know. Once you have assimilated this material, I recommend that you then read Christopher Jary's Working with Ministers which covers similar ground in more depth.
LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT
This section summarises the key lessons imparted by the best leadership and management trainers.
General Advice, inc. Change Management
Program & Project Management
CIVIL SERVICE REFORM
Societies fail if their governments are ineffective, and governments are ineffective if their civil servants are ineffective. The modern civil service is undoubtedly much more efficient than its predecessors, but the quality of policy making, and support for Ministers, is generally reckoned to be patchy. There has been no serious review of the fundamental relationship between Parliament, Ministers and civil servants for over 100 years. These web pages explore these issues in great depth.
ABOUT, RESOURCES & CONTACT
Further information About this website, and Contact information, is here. There is an extensive on-line reference library here. And you might like to use this search facility:
The Institute for Government website has lots more detail and analysis.
My blog is here and a link to my Twitter feed is in the footer below.
The third edition of How to be a Civil Servant was published in 2016. Click on the image on the left and enter the code CIVILSERVANTUK to buy the book for only £9.99 - 23%/£3 off the recommended price.