As Dame Una O’Brien, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, and Civil Service Awards Champion, says, sifting the nominations was a challenging, but rewarding, task:
Congratulations to everyone shortlisted. It’s a huge achievement to get to this stage in a very competitive year. Over 800 nominations were received, up by 15% on last year and the quality all round was very strong. The judges had a tough job this year, but all nominations were carefully read and considered. We want to thank every single team and person who took the time and effort to submit a nomination.
With the awards now in their 10th year, I continue to be amazed, but not surprised, by the passion, imagination and ingenuity of civil servants, and the sheer range of our work.
I want to add my thanks to everyone who looked around, saw examples of outstanding work - of which there are clearly many - and took the trouble to put them forward for an award. And the greater the competition for awards, the greater the accolade.
The challenge and the prize
There has never been a better, or more necessary, time to celebrate the achievements of civil servants.
The best businesses and organisations are constantly looking to do things better - more efficiently, more effectively and, often, differently. In financially straitened times, this is even more important. The Civil Service rose to the challenge in the last five years, and the new Parliament demands the same commitment to improvement.
For civil servants, this means the unique responsibility of doing the best we can for the Government, the country and our fellow citizens. The challenge and the prize are that much greater for us and them. The dividend in this case is better public services, value for money for the taxpayer and successful delivery of the elected Government’s programme.
Doing new things
The award categories and criteria reflect the core values of the Civil Service and the breadth and depth of skills, abilities and behaviours expected of us.
There is a specific award for innovation, but many of the shortlisted nominees in other categories demonstrate innovation as defined by the late American economist Theodore Levitt: “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” Nominated teams and individuals have taken a look at how to tackle an existing task better or how to approach a new project and have put new things into practice that work and are making a difference - the test of successful innovation.
By recognising outstanding work, we enhance the reputation of the Civil Service not just externally but, equally importantly, among ourselves. I want the awards not only to mark achievement but to encourage other civil servants to emulate it and be the best they can be.
Having seen evidence of their work, I look forward to meeting the shortlisted individuals and teams at the awards ceremony in Buckingham Palace in November. It promises to be a very special evening.