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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/people-survey-privacy-information-notice/privacy-notice-civil-service-people-survey
This notice sets out how Cabinet Office and Engine Transformation (formerly ORC International) will use your personal data, collected during the Civil Service People Survey (CSPS), and your rights. It is made under Articles 13 and/or 14 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The CSPS is an annual staff survey which invites all civil servants to share their views on working for their organisations.
The Cabinet Office and Engine Transformation (the external contractor who conduct the Civil Service People Survey on behalf and instruction of Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) are joint-controllers of the personal data collected and processed in the CSPS.
Participation in the survey is entirely voluntary.
1. Your data
1.1 The data
Engine Transformation and Cabinet Office will process the following personal data:
- Your responses to the questions asked in the Civil Service People Survey.
- Metadata about how you complete the Survey (for example: the time taken to complete the survey).
This includes any responses given to:
- attitudinal questions that ask about your experiences of working in the Civil Service;
- demographic questions that ask about your personal and job characteristics (these include age, health status, sexual orientation, religion, gender and ethnicity);
- any free-text comment you leave in the survey.
You do not have to answer all questions in the survey: you may skip any question you do not feel comfortable answering.
Only a small number of analysts in HMG, and in Engine Transformation, will have access to individual-level data collected during the CSPS. Individual-level data are analysed in order to produce aggregate survey results: Engine Transformation and Cabinet Office will only report and publish aggregate results for groups of ten or more survey respondents.
The purposes for which Cabinet Office and Engine Transformation are processing your personal data are:
- to help leaders at all levels of the Civil Service identify where there are problems in their organisations, who they affect, and to help them to take action to improve staff experiences and wellbeing
- comparable data provides a means for senior leaders to be held accountable for people management in a consistent way: aggregate results are used for the purposes of Permanent Secretary and senior official performance and talent management
- common data across the Civil Service creates a common currency and language to share experiences. Case studies of the successes of the survey to improve engagement can be found here.
1.3 Legal basis of processing
The legal basis for processing your personal data is:
- Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest. Personal data are processed in the public interest because understanding civil servants experiences and feelings about working in the Civil Service can inform decisions taken to improve these experiences, and ultimately organisation performance. This function is carried out by the analysts in the Cabinet Office (in partnership with Engine Transformation) on behalf of the whole Civil Service, and (subject to restrictions below) survey analysts in individual participating organisations on the data relating to responses from their organisation.
Sensitive personal data is personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation.
The sensitive data collected by the CSPS is ethnicity, disability status, religion, and sexual orientation.
The legal basis for processing your sensitive personal data is:
- Processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest for the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown, or a government department: it is important to know if groups of staff with specific demographic characteristics have a better or worse experience of working for the Civil Service, so that appropriate action can be taken to level this experience;
- Processing is of a specific category of personal data and it is necessary for the purposes of identifying or keeping under review the existence or absence of equality of opportunity or treatment between groups of people with a view to enabling such equality to be promoted or maintained.
While the CSPS questionnaire does not collect any unique personal identifiers (name, date of birth, staff number, NI number, etc) , Cabinet Office and Engine Transformation have taken the decision to class individual level responses as personal data under the legislation. This is because it may be possible to identify an individual at the point that an individual survey response is reviewed through a combination of answers to the survey.
Some organisations ask Engine Transformation to send individual emails to staff to invite them to participate in the survey (called ‘unique links’), these email addresses are not included in any data or results provided to either the Cabinet Office or participating organisations, although they will mean that Engine Transformation can identify the responses of those individuals making them personal data. Engine Transformation is not permitted to use these email addresses for any other purposes.
Your individual level survey responses, collected by Engine Transformation in the CSPS, will be shared with the Cabinet Office by Engine Transformation. Cabinet Office may then also share your individual level survey response with:
- your organisation, but only if that department has a qualified analyst who has signed a data sharing agreement that outlines how they may store and use these data
- qualified analysts working in the civil service and conducting analysis in support of a cross-government group/project (e.g. undertaking more detailed analysis of results for a particular cross-government profession, function or network). These analysts must also sign a data sharing agreement that outlines how they may store and use the data
A qualified analyst is defined as a member of: the Government Social Research Service; the Government Statistical Service; the Government Economic Service; the Government Operational Service; data scientists in the Digital, Data and Technology Profession; or Chartered Psychologists working in an occupational psychology or organisational development role.
In addition, any free text comments you leave during the survey are shared with the organisations’ Survey Manager whom then decides how these are shared. As a further data protection measure, our partner - Engine Transformation - will proof-read the comments you provide and remove any names or job titles as far as possible.
Outside of these conditions, Cabinet Office and Engine Transformation will only share aggregate summary data (for groups of 10 or more respondents) with internal and external stakeholders. These summary data will not allow any individuals to be identified.
We will only otherwise disclose your data in compliance with a Freedom of Information request where it would not breach your data protection rights to do so (see our Privacy Notice), or in response to a court order or other legal obligation or for legitimate reasons to a public inquiry.
- survey responses collected in the CSPS will be held by the Cabinet Office for statistical purposes (there is regularly the requirement to do time series analysis) for 10 years after the date the survey is completed, at which point their retention will be reviewed. If the survey responses are no longer in use at this point, they will be deleted; if they are still in active use, they will be retained, but their retention will (from then on) be reviewed on an annual basis
- individual-level survey responses will never be used to make decisions about a specific individual
- survey responses collected in the CSPS will be held by Engine Transformation for up to 2 years after the survey has completed. Should the contract with Engine Transformation come to an end, then they will delete personal data within 2 years of the date of collection, or pass it to a new contractor, if requested by the Cabinet Office
- any organisation that participates in the CSPS, which receives individual level CSPS response data for their organisation from Cabinet Office will be the controller of those data, and therefore responsible for determining how long they will be retained by their organisation
- aggregate results from the CSPS (which do not count as personal data) will be kept indefinitely, or until they are no longer considered useful by the organisation
- email addresses for staff in organisations using unique links to access the CSPS will be deleted from Engine Transformation’s systems within 30 days of the survey closing
2. Your rights
Please note: Cabinet Office and Engine Transformation treat all data received through the CSPS as personal data even though it is generally provided anonymously. That is because we gather sufficient information that in certain circumstances certain individuals may be identifiable if they have a set of characteristics that allows them to be picked out. Where you wish to exercise one of your rights Cabinet Office or Engine Transformation will need to be able to identify your individual response to be able to comply.
Your rights are as follows:
you have the right to request information about how your personal data are processed, and to request a copy of that personal data
you have the right to request that any inaccuracies in your personal data are rectified without delay
you have the right to request that any incomplete personal data are completed, including by means of a supplementary statement
you have the right to request that your personal data are erased if there is no longer a justification for them to be processed
you have the right in certain circumstances (for example, where accuracy is contested) to request that the processing of your personal data is restricted
you have the right to object to the processing of your personal data
If you consider that your personal data has been misused or mishandled, you may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, who is an independent regulator. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner's Office
0303 123 1113
Any complaint to the Information Commissioner is without prejudice to your right to seek redress through the courts.
4. Contact details
The data controllers for your personal data are the Cabinet Office and Engine Transformation. In some cases your employing organisation may also be a data controller. This is only in cases where Cabinet Office has shared individual-level survey responses with an organisation (via a qualified analyst who has signed a data sharing agreement, as outlined above in the Recipients section of this document).
The contact details for the lead data-controller are:
0207 276 1234
The contact details for the lead data-controller’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) are:
Stephen Jones (DPO) Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall London
The Data Protection Officer provides independent advice and monitoring of Cabinet Office’s use of personal information.