This website and its accompanying publications provides a thorough introduction to the duties, responsibilities and working practices of Whitehall officials. They also contain detailed information about civil service numbers, pay, pensions etc. as well as a detailed history of civil service reform and a great deal of advice for new recruits. Other sections focus on specific subjects such as Women Civil Servants, Special Advisers and Ministerial Directions.
Scroll down this page to access all areas of the site. There is also a comprehensive online library. Or you might like to use this search facility:-
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 1.3% of all employees (8% of public sector employees) are civil servants.
Researching your ancestors? Follow this link to read National Archives' guide to finding records of individual civil or Crown servants. And follow this link to access the Civil Service Commission Appointments, Promotions and Transfers 1871-1942 database
Definitions & Statistics
Many civil servants find that they have to learn new skills very quickly - and usually 'on the job'. They can be a policy adviser one day, then a manager, then Private Secretary/ministerial confidant , and then maybe an international negotiator or a regulator.
These guides will help you climb those learning curves by bringing together invaluable practical advice from experienced officials - the sort of advice that is not written down elsewhere, and can often only be learned over time if you have a really great boss.
This part of the website summarises what every Whitehall official needs to know, including how to work effectively with ministers, how to prepare submissions and briefings, and an introduction to Parliamentary business. It also contains some essential advice on project and change management.
Policy-making is a difficult and imperfect art - but high quality research, consultation and analysis can make a big difference. This part of the website summarises advice from the very best and most experienced Whitehall officials.
Civil servants work within a constitutional framework known as the Westminster Model which requires them to be politically impartial whilst being principally accountable only to Ministers within the current government. They also work within a wide range of ethical and other constraints which are taken very seriously by both senior staff and the wider public. This includes an ethical code which requires officials to be honest, impartial, challenging and collaborative. One of their key skills, therefore, is to achieve their objectives whilst observing both the letter and the spirit of their various obligations.
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.
OTHER INTERESTING INFORMATION ...
... including several pages describing the much-delayed (and still not 100% complete) employment of women on equal terms to men in the UK civil service. They contain some fascinating history, and the stories of many exceptional women.
Ministers, Private Offices, Special Advisers & Directions
Women in the Civil Service
Regulation protects the weak and vulnerable. But it costs time and money and it makes illegal that which would otherwise be legal. Regulation is therefore always controversial, and it can be very complex. Is the burden now too great? Is 'the regulatory state' now too powerful? Are we over-protecting our children? And how do we avoid further regulatory failures such as the financial crisis, Stafford Hospital, Grenfell Tower. Some answers are in this separate web site.
UNDERSTANDING LOCAL GOVERNMENT
This separate web site will help you understand the complex structure of local government in the UK, the relationship between officials and elected representatives, and various current issues.
ABOUT, RESOURCES & CONTACT
Further information About this website, and Contact information, is here.
There is an extensive on-line reference library here. The same page also lists books written by civil servants describing their work.
If you need more detail then I strongly recommend that you investigate the data and reports published by the Institute for Government, including detailed statistics in its Whitehall Monitor series.
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