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Building a community to deliver public service excellence

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Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill
Mark Sedwill, Home Office Permanent Secretary

At the Home Office our mission has always been to keep the country secure and our citizens safe. Today there are new threats to our safety – locally, nationally, overseas, at our borders and in cyberspace. And with the UK leaving the EU, the need for change is greater than ever.

As the Permanent Secretary, I am often asked how the Home Office will change. But for me, it’s about much more than just our department. To develop 'A Brilliant Civil Service' that is fully equipped to deliver our mission, we all need a more outward-facing approach. Quite simply, we cannot do it on our own.

So, for me, the Home Office is about more than the department. It is about being part of a much bigger system, a community of 300,000 public servants working together. Professional public servants working across operational services: the Border, Police, and Fire departments; national security; the third sector and the private sector; and working through partnerships with the rest of Her Majesty’s Government and governments overseas.

To deliver for the future we must go beyond our usual security boundaries. To make us all safer, for example, our Police, Fire and Rescue services continue to find ways to engage with the National Health Service. And we continue to look together at how to improve mental health, which will benefit us all.

So we need to adapt to these changing times. But government cannot simply dictate change. We must look at different ways to lead a system. We need participative and persuasive leadership. We need a common and shared understanding of our threats and risk at a national, regional and local level to inform cooperation.

'Improved outcomes' logoThat is why we’ve been speaking with colleagues up and down the country across the different organisations involved in keeping the country safe and citizens secure. We need to take people on a journey towards a common mission of public service and work together to deliver our shared objectives. To do this I created a Strategic Capabilities Board to bring together the key leaders in the wider Home Office community. And we continue to encourage Home Office colleagues at all levels to work across boundaries to deliver our national priorities.

With that in mind, I would encourage all of the Civil Service to think differently – to think how we can best work with our wider community partners to deliver our shared objectives through our shared commitment to public service.

Follow Mark Sedwill on Twitter: @marksedwill.

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  1. Comment by Kevin posted on

    Alow me to paraphrase Shakespare. " Words without thoughts Never to Heaven rise". While there is a mindset in SCS grades where protecting their personal empire is all that matters, we will never have the joined up Civil Service that so many seem to be aiming for. In my experience, it's not the grass roots Civil Servants that prevent this from happening, but those who make policy.

  2. Comment by Bill posted on

    I love these articles, they sound like the civil service is a joined up organisation that has the best interests of the general public at heart. If only the powers that be would be prepared to listen to those on the coal face, then it would be very different.

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by William (MOD) posted on

      It would be brilliant if the government departments had "joined up" systems and thinking.

      To highlight bad practice, I attended an emergency response exercise recently, where the Police, Ambulance Service, Fire Service, the MoD and the two local authorities all had different IT systems that couldn't share information.
      This led to having 4 different sets of casualty figures and we didn't know which one was correct.
      How can we appear to be a professionally managed organisation if we give out different figures?

      I suggest we need a properly thought out Government Information management system.
      Note - that does not mean the same IT equipment, but a method of communicating or sharing the relevant information (not data) across the relevant departments.