How to be a Civil Servant
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 pages listed below address this problem by providing a thorough introduction to the duties, responsibilities and working practices of Whitehall officials. I hope that they will be found helpful both by those interested in understanding the British civil service, and by those embarking on a Whitehall career. You might find the following search facility helpful in identifying particular topics.
|Working with Ministers||Ministers, and how best to meet their needs|
|Civil Servants||An introduction to the species|
|Effective Communication||What works, and when|
|The Importance of Presentation||- not "spin"!|
|Submissions to Ministers||How to get them to read your advice|
|Briefing Ministers||How to prepare Ministers for key meetings - and the boring ones too|
|Ministerial Correspondence||How to write the sort of letter that you would like to receive|
|Speeches||It helps if your Minister has something to say ...|
|Lobbies and Lobbyists||How to work with them|
|Fight the Fog||How to write clear English|
|Plain English||A useful list of plain words for when your brain gets stuck|
|Why them, this, now?||A short guide to making an effective presentation|
|The Policy Process||What Process?|
|Effective Consultation||Exploring Options|
|Impact Assessments and associated issues||Impact Assessments, transposition, gold-plating, unwanted cosequences, and compliance|
|The Final Stages||Navigating Whitehall and gaining collective agreement|
|A Policy Checklist|
The European Union
|The EU: An Introduction|
|Influencing EU Decisions||Lobbying, informal contact and formal negotiations|
|EU Institutions||The structure of the EU, and key dates|
|EU Legislation||inc. codecision and comitology|
|Implications for National Policies||Competence, free movement and all that|
|EU Detail||EU Presidencies, Qualified Majority Voting, Monetary Union, Schengen|
|Parliamentary Business||PQs, debates, statements etc.|
|Devolution||.. and how to work effectively across borders|
|General Elections||.. and how they affect civil servants|
|The Civil Service Code||Integrity, Impartiality, Honesty|
|Judicial Review||The Judge over your Shoulder|
|Human Rights, Freedom of Information and Data Protection||.. and how they interact|
|Conflicts of Interest||Accepting gifts and hospitality; owning shares; recruitment and promotion; private sector sponsorship|
How to get things done!
|Innovation||The obstacles to innovation and how to overcome them|
|Planning and implementation||inc. overcoming departmentalitis and the fear of risk|
|Dealing with the Media||Depart from these basic rules at your peril!|
Leadership and Management
|Leadership||Remorselessness, honesty, commitment, empowerment and achieving change|
|Managing People||Setting objectives etc.|
|Managing Programmes & Projects||The heart of delivery|
|Managing Time||Tips for procrastinators|
|Managing Personal Relationships|
|Whose Problem is is anyway?||Tips for when you are truly stuck|
Please feel free to copy the material in these notes, for instance for use in training programmes. But please bear in mind that, although I believe that most civil servants - and most experienced Ministers - would agree with most of what I have written, I am equally sure that none would agree with every word.
I should also stress that the advice in these notes does not directly deal with the challenges facing the vast majority of civil servants who do not work in central departments, but carry out vital work in Executive Agencies and local offices. It also does not deal with the special circumstances of those working in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. I apologise to such colleagues, but I hope that they, too, will find the advice interesting, if only because it will tell them something about the working methods of those whose decisions have such a large influence on their working lives.
Much of the above text is available as a book, published by Politicos Publishing, a branch of Methuens. Follow this link to read some reviews. And Click here to buy the book on Amazon
A sister site www.regulation.org.uk has information and analysis about regulation, science and risk, including the growth of the regulatory state, the regulatory burden on small firms, economic and competition regulation, the regulatory failures that led to the 2008 credit crunch.
Martin Stanley's CV and contact details
Click here to access other pages dealing with related subjects. And please help me keep this website up to date. Please do tell me if you have interesting new information, or if any of the links stop working. Thank you.