Government finance function head Mike Driver on getting the basics right and telling stories with data

Written by Civil Service World on 28 December 2019 in Feature

As 2020 approaches, senior figures from across government reflect on their highlights and challenges of 2019, look ahead to the next 12 months and share their favourite festive memories

Photo: Michael Mandiberg/CC BY-SA 2.0

What was your highlight of 2019?

This has been an exciting year for the government finance function. The biggest highlight for me was the launch of our new strategy in July. This sets out our six key objectives that mark a real step change in the capability of the function and will help us deliver our overarching vision to always be “Driving the agenda, not just keeping score”. This is the first time we’ve laid out all our aims in one cohesive document and I’m proud of the hard work that has already gone into embedding these objectives across the function.

What has been the most significant change in your organisation this year?

We’ve made a lot of changes in the government finance function this year to help embed our new strategy. Initially, we’ve focused on implementing our first objective – “Getting the basics right” – which is the bedrock upon which our credibility rests. We have committed to developing and embedding robust finance processes, data, capability and standards to enable the delivery of high-quality public services and to ensure that public money is spent efficiently and effectively. A good example of this is the updated government finance standard, which sets clear expectations for the management and use of funds in all parts of central government.

"We’ve focused on implementing our first objective – 'Getting the basics right' – which is the bedrock upon which our credibility rests"

What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?

There are many ongoing challenges facing our finance function community and we are working hard to meet them in our future strategy. One of the biggest, but I believe most exciting, of these is how to anticipate and better exploit a constantly evolving digital landscape. We’re focused on staying at the forefront of developing trends in technology. For example, through pioneering the use of more sophisticated data visualisation tools we can tell even more compelling stories with our data and better inform decision-making. By focusing on cloud-based platforms, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation we can enhance our systems and find more ways to remove manual processes. Despite this challenging context, I’m confident that we’ve got a great plan in place and the best people across government to help us strive for improved outcomes and innovative ways of working in finance.

Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth...

I love Christmas and love having my children with us to celebrate. This year will be particularly great because my grandson will be with us for the first time. One of my overriding personal memories of Christmas was receiving my first calculator – a career-defining moment!

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