Policy Profession news
Issue 1, July 2009
A new Head of Profession: Robert Devereux
I’m delighted to provide this introduction to our first newsletter
for all civil servants engaged in policy work.
There’s no doubt that our work is both important and
challenging. The problems we tackle matter: child poverty,
obesity, carbon reduction to name just three. But the problems
are also difficult to tackle, in part because they are often
complex, involving many players and multiple interests, in part
because of their scale, and also because the issues and possible
solutions are often contentious. This is why it falls to
Government, ultimately, to make the key decisions.
We are privileged to be at the centre of this work, and there are many examples of real
successes. In my own area of transport, to choose just one topical example, the consistent
evidence-based work on road safety over the last decade has just provided a dramatic fall in
the numbers of people killed on the roads, achieving the Government’s target two years
early, and making our roads (alongside Sweden’s) the safest of any major country in the
world. Of course, any death on the road is still a tragedy, and there is still much to do. But I
am keen for us to recognise success as it occurs, and draw confidence from the fact that the
work we do can bring about a real and positive difference to people’s lives.
Unfortunately, we are not always successful. Nor do we always deliver improved outcomes
at the pace Ministers demand, or with the efficiency which taxpayers properly expect. That
means we need to improve policy making and policy delivery.
What then are my priorities as Head of the Policy Profession?
First, to ensure that everyone involved in policy making recognises that what counts,
ultimately, is change in the real world. All our consultation, white papers, legislation,
budget settlements, procurements and appointments are only as good as the
outcomes they finally deliver. This also requires a clear recognition that good policy
work relies on the contribution from colleagues in operations, in finance, in internal
audit, and all our other disciplines: the Civil Service delivers better outcomes by
working together and working collaboratively with others in the wider public sector,
the private sector and the voluntary sector.
Policy Profession News, June 2009
Second, to ensure we make better policy. Some of the challenges we face have been
around, in one form or another, for a long time. We will need better, more joined up
approaches if we are to make substantial progress in future. This will demand fresh,
creative thinking that is well-informed and focused on delivery. And all that we are
trying to achieve must now be delivered with more tightly constrained budgets,
putting a real premium on efficient policy and innovative policy.
Third, to make and deliver policy in better ways. There is plenty of scope to improve
how we make and implement policy, with a professional discipline which: delivers
more assured and sustainable results; which turns aspiration into ideas, and ideas
into effective action in a faster way; and which helps us learn from feedback, from
each other, from the front line, and from experience of what is working both here
Fourth, and a key component of everything above, to build up the skills of all those
working on policy. The profession will help achieve this by setting clear standards
against which policy makers can measure their performance and plan their
development, and by providing a framework of learning and qualifications that can
support policy makers in developing their skills, and their careers.
In this way, I hope to lead the profession in developing world-class policy, which delivers the
very best outcomes.
Head of Policy Profession
Permanent Secretary, Department for Transport
As Head of the Policy Profession for the Civil Service, Robert Devereux works closely with
the Heads of Policy Profession in each department. Details of who’s who is provided in the
The work programme agreed by Robert and the Departmental Heads of Policy Profession is
led by the Policy Profession Executive Board. This is chaired by Jon Coles, and meets
monthly. The profession is supported by the Policy Profession Support Unit (Sarah Tyerman,
Nancy Hey, James Graham and Rees Howell).
The Policy Hub: an information and ideas exchange
The Policy Profession is working with the National School of Government to redevelop the
current Policy Hub website, a cross-government space for policy makers to share best
practice, resources and news. The hub can be found at
www.nationalschool.gov.uk/policyhub and is full of useful content for all types of policy
Policy Profession News, June 2009
work. Once this work is complete the hub will be a refreshed and more usable resource for
all policy makers…watch this space.
There are many initiatives running within departments to drive up our performance in policy
delivery. The Policy Profession provides a forum for sharing these initiatives across
departmental boundaries, and alongside these, at the civil service-wide level:
It has completed a training needs analysis of policy skills. This cross-government
consultation with policy makers at all grades across 15 departments and two
Devolved Administrations has developed a clearer picture of the skills and training
needs of the policy community.
It is using the findings from the training needs analysis to contribute to revised
professional standards for policy makers. These standards will underpin recruitment,
promotion and performance management; updating them will make them more
accurate and relevant for policy staff.
It is working closely with the National School of Government and other providers to
update training provision for policy makers in line with the training needs analysis.
It is managing the evaluation of a policy skills pilot training course being conducted
in Northern Ireland targeted at grades 6 and 7.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Policy Profession or in signing up to
receive the Policy Profession newsletter (updates, news, consultation opportunities)
Policy Profession News, June 2009
Heads of Policy Profession Network
Head of Profession
Policy Profession Executive Board
Jon Coles Kate Cassidy Helen Edwards David Frost Steve Gooding Adam Sharples
& Deputy Head
DCSF of Profession WAG MoJ FCO DfT DWP
Margaret Aldred James Babbage Lindsay Bell Mark Bowman John Dodds Alun Evans
Cabinet Office GCHQ CLG HMT BIS (BERR) BIS (DIUS)
Vic Hogg Hilary Jackson Peter Michael Una O'Brien Paul Priestly Andrew Ramsay
HO NIO HMRC DH NICS DCMS
Yusaf Samiullah Bill Stow Caron Walker Peter Watkins TBA
DFID DEFRA ONS MOD SG
Policy Profession Support Unit
Sarah Tyerman Nancy Hey James Graham Rees Howell