This website provides 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 detailed history of civil service reform and a great deal of advice for new recruits. Other sections focus on specific subjects such as policy making, Special Advisers and Ministerial Directions.
Scroll down this page to access all areas of the site. There is also a large online library. And 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.
IMPARTIALITY, ACCOUNTABILITY & all that
This section describes the duties and responsibilities of civil servants within the UK's representative democracy - often referred to as the '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.
POLICY MAKING, PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS and
SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER
Policy making is seldom a smooth process. It is more akin to a game of snakes and ladders in which occasional rapid process up the policy ladder is all too often followed by rapid descent down the snake of an unintended consequence.
Luckily, there is lots of good advice around. The links immediately below will help you turn that great idea into reality. And the Leadership/Management section, further down this page, contains lots of good stuff about program and project management.
Speaking Truth to Power
- Why is it hard to Speak the Truth?
- How to Offer Persuasive Advice
- Are Civil Servants now more like Courtiers?
- Why do some Ministers Dislike Challenge?
- Failure to Speak Truth to Power - Examples
- Project Management - Appraisal Optimism
LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT
This section summarises excellent advice from successful managers, together with the key lessons imparted by the best leadership and management trainers.
Program & Project Management
inc. Managing Change
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.
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 - £3 off the recommended price.