From Haldane to a hundred: the Government Actuary’s Department marks its centenary

Written by Richard Johnstone on 6 February 2019 in News

Department kicks off a year of celebrations to mark 100 years since its creation

Photo: Pixabay

The Government Actuary’s Department has set out plans to showcase its role to mark its 100th anniversary this year.

Setting up a dedicated actuarial department in government was a recommendation of the landmark 1918 Haldane Report that set proposals to restructure government after the First World War. The report also created the Haldane principle on the independence of research funding decisions from government.

The review concluded that a government actuary department was needed “as a service provided to meet the general needs of all the departments of government” on actuarial matters, with advice on issues such as war pensions becoming more crucial.


The department said it would run a programme of events throughout 2019 marking its successes, highlighting its role in government and showcasing its contributions to the actuarial profession.

Kicking off the year-long celebration, known as GAD100, government actuary Martin Clarke said: “We’ll be looking at how our skills and services have developed over the past 100 years. When GAD was created the focus was primarily on analysis related to the state pension. Now, our services support government decision-making in much wider areas including actuarial advice on insurance and health related matters, as well as financial and demographic modelling."

The report said actuarial work “may best be performed at a common centre and by a single staff, which thereby gains a variety of experience, and concentrates in itself an amount of knowledge, beyond the grasp of actuaries exclusively employed in a single department, or (as was until recently the common practice) called in to advise upon isolated problems by individual departments at different times".

The GAD was created at the same time as the Ministry of Health in 1919, and was established as a standalone department on a separate vote.

A history of the GAD reveals that the Treasury wrote to other departments following the creation of the standalone actuarial department to inform them that “in no case should outside actuaries be engaged, or consulted with a view to their employment, without the prior sanction of this board." The GAD was “associated with the Treasury under the general responsibility of the chancellor of the exchequer, who answers for it in parliament”, according to the circular.

“This is a fantastic milestone for us as a department and I feel privileged to be the ninth government actuary since GAD’s creation," Clarke said.

He added: “GAD100 is the ideal opportunity to celebrate the central role we play in using our skill to help our clients deliver their policies.”

About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

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