Civil service reform


The UK civil service needs to change to meet the long-term challenges that all economies are facing.

It needs to do things faster, be smaller and to provide more services online. It needs to be more open and less bureaucratic so that civil servants are trusted to get things done and are accountable for what they achieve. The civil service needs to be more unified, so that departments work better together. Finally, we also need to make sure that civil servants have the right skills for the future.


In June 2012, we published the Civil Service Reform Plan which set out the specific actions we’ll take, including:

  • making the government’s digital services simpler, clearer and faster, taking a ‘digital by default’ approach by 2015
  • improving and opening up policy making, addressing how departments work together by setting up cross-departmental teams and involving more people in the design of policies
  • improving the delivery of major projects, and sharpening accountability by, for example, putting in place a strong cross-government management information system
  • improving the skills, abilities and performance of civil servants, by producing a 5-year capabilities plan for the whole civil service, introducing a new civil service competency framework and encouraging interchange with the private sector
  • creating a modern employment offer for staff, with a sharper performance management system, improved IT and flexible working across departments


We announced plans to reform the civil service in the 2010 Coalition programme for government.

In July 2013 we published the One Year On report, an assessment of progress to date on the reform plan. This set out success in some areas - like starting to move more government services online and improving the delivery of major projects - alongside slower progress in other areas.

Be Exceptional, a conference for civil servants, was held in Gateshead, London and Bristol in July 2013 to support progress on reform by holding interactive sessions and presentations on best practice.

Case studies

Read a range of case studies on the various aspects of civil service reform on the Civil Service website.