MOD shines at the Civil Service Awards

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The civilian Standing Joint Commander (UK) Olympics Team has won the Olympic Team Award at this year's Civil Service Awards.

Civil servants gathered together yesterday for the awards ceremony at Lancaster House in London. Hosted by BBC TV presenters Jon Sopel and Sian Williams, the event honoured outstanding individuals and teams across government for their contribution to public services.

The Civil Service Awards celebrate and promote innovation and improvement across the entire breadth of central government. They recognise people who are leading the way in these areas and champion them as examples of best practice that can be applied across the Civil Service. This year 850 nominations were received.

The Awards featured 18 main categories. The MOD was shortlisted in two of them. As well as the MOD’s civilian Standing Joint Commander [SJC] (UK) nomination, Staff Sergeant Mark Smith and Staff Sergeant Andrew Laurie were nominated for the Achieving Better for Less Award. The judges accepted the fact that Defence has a unique DNA and opened the competition up to Service personnel as well as civilians.

Full citations and a list of all the winners can be found at here.

In a video message at the event Prime Minister David Cameron said:

This summer we showed the world the best face of Britain and your efforts were a big part of that success. So I am very pleased to see a special category tonight recognising achievements in this area.

Britain’s Civil Service is a great source of national pride. Your excellence, innovation and professionalism and your values, integrity and impartiality, honesty and objectivity are rightly respected around the world.

Opening the event, Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service, said:

It’s not often we have a chance to celebrate the excellent work we do in the Civil Service. What these nominations demonstrate is that it is a great place to work and what we do matters greatly to the country.

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your passion and dedication and innovation; it is truly impressive, it is truly great. You should all feel incredibly proud of your achievements.

The Olympic Team Award was a one-off category created for the 2012 Civil Service Awards to celebrate individuals, teams and volunteers who showed excellence in delivering the 2012 Games. Over 100 nominations were received for this category alone. The award was judged by a panel including the new British Olympic Association Chairman, Lord Sebastian Coe.

In a video message played just before the winners were revealed Lord Coe said:

The quality of the London Games was predicated almost entirely on the secure, robust relationships that we formed. And nowhere were those relationships more secure and robust than across government. There were 19 government departments that helped us deliver the Games. No organising committee alone can do that.

Many of you I know worked long and hard and put all sorts of things on hold to make sure these Games were the extraordinary success they were. Thank you for being such true and trusted teams to help us.

Presenting the award to the SJC (UK) Olympics Team, Jonathan Stephens, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said:

This summer was a summer like no other. It was a great opportunity to put on a show to the world. It was also only made possible by the very best of public service and Civil Service delivery.

Staff Sergeants Andy Laurie and Marc Smith
Staff Sergeants Andy Laurie and Marc Smith from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Training Wing [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The SJC (UK) Olympics Team is made up of Angie Rogers, Sarah Williams, Kerry Kellett, Sheila Symes, Miles Tooke, Charlie Bird and Jo McKeegan-Brown.

Speaking moments after receiving their award, the SJC (UK) Olympics Team said:

We are really proud of what we have achieved. We worked so hard over the summer. It’s just recognition of that achievement. The award is not just for us, it’s for our families and friends who put up with us being away from them every weekend for six months and for supporting us when we worked long hours during the week.

The Armed Forces contribution to the Games was recognised throughout the summer but this award recognises the civilians too. It shows the MOD as a team, with civil servants and military working together. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Afghanistan or the UK - we can still do a good job.

The MOD team was up against Operation Stepchange from the Department for Transport, which tested travel and business continuity plans across government in readiness for the Games; the UK Wide Operations Olympic and Paralympic Torch Team from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which co-ordinated the Olympic Torch Relay across the UK; and the Royal Parks, which hosted a number of the Olympic events watched by two million spectators.

The Civil Service Awards support the wider Civil Service reform plan. One of the plan’s main priorities is for all government departments to find new ways of delivering services. It aims to transform the Civil Service so that it will have a more innovative and less hierarchical culture, with a much sharper focus on outcomes rather than processes, and will be more flexible and corporate. Many aspects of the plan came from ‘Tell Us How’, the Cabinet Office’s suggestion scheme.

The MOD itself uses GEMS, its own staff suggestion scheme, to encourage innovation within Defence. The ideas scheme was launched in 1996 and is open to all Defence civilian and Service personnel, including ex-employees, anywhere in the world. It is the third most successful ideas scheme in the world. Those who make successful suggestions receive a financial reward. GEMS is a key part of Transforming Defence. It falls under the Behaviours and Business Improvement workstream, linking closely with the ‘Be A Leader - Think Defence - Do It Better’ behaviour change work.

GEMS also glittered at the Civil Service Awards, showing the rest of Whitehall how we in Defence are ‘Doing It Better’. Staff Sergeant Mark Smith and Staff Sergeant Andrew Laurie, who were nominated for the Achieving Better for Less Award, earlier this week won the GEMS Idea of the Year Award and a commendation in the Most Operational Benefit category.

Their Armoured Frame Electrical Layout is a training aid for Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers vehicle mechanics to fix electrical problems in protected mobility vehicles. This is currently a real problem in Afghanistan, and this innovation will help the mechanics in theatre to learn how to make faster repairs.

The two Staff Sergeants were up against the Respiratory Team from the Department of Health, which in the end won the Achieving Better for Less Award. The team retendered contracts for the regional Home Oxygen Service. The other nominee was the Property Asset Management Unit which is a shared service between the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government. It maintains the buildings for both departments at a significantly reduced cost.

Staff Sergeant Mark Smith and Staff Sergeant Andrew Laurie said:

Although we didn’t win our category we were very pleased to be nominated. We work with civil servants quite closely and it was a privilege to come here and see the recognition they received. We felt the winning nomination deserved it, and we commend them.

Permanent Secretary Jon Thompson said:

My congratulations to the SJC (UK) Team for their win, and to Staff Sergeants Smith and Laurie for their nomination. There was fierce competition from other government departments at the Civil Service Awards this year and the bar was set very high.

The MOD’s strong performance at the Awards recognises our commitment to ‘Doing It Better’, and shows how highly our innovative work is regarded outside the department.