Our governance

Our leaders need to set a clear overall direction for the Civil Service so that all our different organisations work as a coherent and effective whole. The head of the Civil Service is supported in this by all his permanent secretaries through the Civil Service Governance Boards.

Civil Service Governance

Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service

Simon Case is the Prime Minister’s most senior policy adviser. He acts as Secretary to the Cabinet and is responsible for:

  • supporting all ministers in the running of government
  • providing professional leadership to the Civil Service

The Civil Service is made up of all government organisations (except for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office). It also includes the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government.

Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service

Alex Chisholm leads the efficiency programme, working with permanent secretaries across government to put in place reforms. He also chairs the Civil Service Board, supporting the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service in performance-managing the other Whitehall Permanent Secretaries. He is the Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office.

Permanent Secretaries

A permanent secretary is the most senior civil servant in a department. Each supports the government minister at the head of the department, who is accountable to Parliament for the department’s actions and performance.

The permanent secretary is the accounting officer for their department, reporting to Parliament. They are responsible for the day-to-day running of the department, including the budget.

Scottish and Welsh Permanent Secretaries

The Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government is accountable to Scottish Ministers and is the Principal Accountable Officer for the Scottish Government.

The Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Government is accountable to the First Minister of Wales and is the Principal Accounting Officer for the Welsh Government.

Civil Service Board

The Civil Service Board (CSB) is responsible for the strategic leadership of the Civil Service, to make sure it works as a coherent and effective whole and has the capability both now, and in the future, to respond to any challenges. Chaired by the Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service, Alex Chisholm, it is comprised of a cross-section of permanent secretaries from Civil Service departments.

The CSB is accountable to the Cabinet Secretary and is responsible for considering the strategic challenges faced by the Civil Service, and collectively agreeing a way forward.

The CSB takes responsibility, at an official level, for:

  • setting the strategic direction for the operating model of government, system-wide capability and capacity, cross-cutting delivery, efficiency programmes, and ensuring value for money;
  • implementing the future vision for the Civil Service as a whole and solving long-term organisational and cultural challenges including around people and technology;
  • managing performance and systemic risk to ensure the Civil Service is successfully implementing the government’s programme;
  • ensuring that lessons learned from National Audit Office or other external reports are shared and actioned across departments;
  • ensuring Government priorities are responded to effectively;
  • promoting coherent cross-government and cross-functional working; and
  • holding Functions to account for delivery of their priorities.

As the most senior collective leadership body, members of CSB also support the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service in a programme of visible leadership and engagement with other tiers of the Senior Civil Service (SCS), and the wider Civil Service.


Name Department
Alex Chisholm (Chair) Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service & Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office
Simon Case Cabinet Secretary & Head of the Civil Service
Peter Schofield Department for Work & Pensions
Sir Tom Scholar HM Treasury
Matthew Rycroft CBE Home Office
Antonia Romeo Ministry of Justice
Bernadette Kelly CB Department for Transport
Dame Shan Morgan DCMG Permanent Secretary for the Welsh Government
Tamara Finkelstein Permanent Secretary
Sarah Healey Permanent Secretary

People Board

The People Board is a formal sub-board of CSB. It oversees strategic people-related issues across the Civil Service.

The People Board is responsible for:

  • overseeing implementation of the Civil Service Workforce Plan
  • the development of Civil Service-wide policies relating to terms and conditions and pay and pensions for all civil servants, including the strategy for specialist pay
  • the assessment of short, medium and long-term capabilities gaps and the development and implementation of plans to fill them, including a strategy for learning and development
  • implementing the Civil Service Diversity Strategy
  • Civil Service-wide employee relation issues


Name Department
Sarah Healey (Chair) Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Rupert McNeil Chief People Officer, Cabinet Office
Sarah Munby Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Jim Harra HM Revenue & Customs
Susan Acland-Hood Department for Education
Madeleine Alessandri Northern Ireland Office
Shona Dunn Home Office
Charles Roxburgh HM Treasury
Stephen Lovegrove Ministry of Defence
Philip Barton Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Baroness Finn Non-Executive Board Member, Cabinet Office

The Civil Service Shadow Board

The Civil Service Shadow Board (CSSB) is comprised of Civil Servants from the departments represented at the CSB. CSSB members are drawn from grades below the Senior Civil Service to provide different perspectives and views on the issues discussed at the CSB. The CSSB provides views on the papers going to Civil Service Board (CSB) in advance of each monthly Board meeting. Representatives of the CSSB also attend the CSB meetings to contribute and give their views in person.