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Civil Service

This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Civil Service Live 2017 and building 'A Brilliant Civil Service'

John Manzoni
John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary

Civil Service Live 2017 is over.

This last run was our biggest ever, with nearly 17,000 civil servants in attendance, 840 different plenaries and seminars, nearly 900 mentoring sessions, 1,500 speakers from across the Civil Service, and more than 250 exhibitors from government departments, suppliers, and sponsors, across the seven days of events.

This year I had the pleasure of attending every event across England, Scotland, and Wales. Six cities (Manchester, Gateshead, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham and London), six great venues; from modernist exhibition centres like the Sage in Gateshead, to the palatial surrounds of Cardiff City Hall. And everything culminated in two days at the QEII Conference Centre in London, including a visit from the Prime Minister, who spoke to and answered questions from an audience of civil servants. At every event, with audiences from different administrations, regions, departments and agencies, I met the same great pride in and passion for public service.

Civil Service Live 2017 was all about the progress we are making in realising the vision of ‘A Brilliant Civil Service’ - and about using learning and development to accelerate that progress and transform how we work so we can meet the big challenges facing the country. We saw examples of brilliant work under each of the vision pillars: Improved Outcomes, Effective Leaders, Skilled People, and A Great Place to Work.

The energy and enthusiasm for development I encountered at each stop was genuinely inspiring: civil servants coming together to share best practice, breaking down barriers and building new collaborative networks - precisely the approach that will help us achieve the Brilliant Civil Service we all want to be a part of.

It was a fitting way to celebrate the achievements of what was a challenging but successful last 12 months for us all. Those achievements were the main focus of the opening keynote speech I delivered at each of the events. The examples of outstanding work by civil servants that I referred to in that speech were all particular to the location and the surrounding region, but the underlying message remained the same: be proud of the difference you are making and the brilliant things you are doing – and keep doing them!

Man speaking at lectern
John Manzoni speaking at Civil Service Live 2017 in London

For those who couldn't get to any of the events, I attach here the final edition of that speech, delivered in London on Wednesday, 12 July.

Civil Service Live may be over, but we must all use the lessons we have learned, the new skills we are developing, the new contacts we have made and put them to use in our own jobs, so as to turn those brilliant examples - of improved outcomes, effective leaders, skilled people, and great places to work - into the norm.

The commitment I saw in so many delegates to do just that leaves me in no doubt that we can maintain this momentum towards our goal.  

Graphic of 'A brilliant Civil Service' and four related themesSo I will close on the same point I closed on in every city I visited, with a thank you, for everything you do, day in, day out – and a last word of encouragement, to make the most of this opportunity, and to continue to build A Brilliant Civil Service.

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  1. Comment by Paul posted on

    As the favourite statement says 'You pay the top money, to the top people'. This indicates that for any business to be successful, it is necessary to recruit the most skilled individuals - and one of the best ways to do this, is with a rewarding salary package. Sadly, except for the top tiers of Government & the Civil Sercice, the pay package is distinctly lacking. As has been highlighted in today's media, many public institutions, including the Police & NHS, are new experiencing real difficulties with recruitment. The same applies to the Civil Service. If you had recently left education, why would you be interested in a Civil Service career, with years of cutbacks, pay restraint and continued austerity measures in place by your employer? Much better to use yours skills & qualifications elsewhere, but not the public sector.

  2. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you for an interesting readout. As someone who has been in the Service for a number of years, whilst I would agree with your vision, my concern is that many colleagues are feeling demotivated by the myths that we constantly see in the media that we have a gold plated pension scheme and that we are overpaid!

    Whilst I appreciate the need for the Goverment of the day to be diligent with respect to the management of the public purse, the simply fact of the matter is that pay for a number of staff is no longer able to support their basic needs!

  3. Comment by CS in MOD posted on

    The civil service - "A Brilliant Place to Work"????

    1. Do I work in a nice environment?
    I do work in a nice building and the people are generally easy to work with, but the IT could improve.
    2. Is my work motivating and important?
    I do feel my work is important and trying to support the Armed Forces is motivating.
    3. Do I feel rewarded?
    This year's pay rise offer - 0.7%
    Doesn't feel so brilliant to many civil servants after 7 years of pay restraint.