Government leaders share the highs and lows of 2021 and set out their priorities for next year in CSW's annual round up


Each year, CSW asks permanent secretaries and leaders across government to reflect on the challenges and successes of the previous year, and look ahead to their goals for the next one. Here are the 2021 entries. We also asked who their dream New Year's Eve party guest would be – and from Adele to a Delphic oracle, their answers didn't disappoint.

2022 is about delivering on our promises’ – Alex Chisholm on his priority for the coming year

Nightingale courts and remote hearings – Antonia Romeo on how the MoJ adapted to Covid challenges

'DWP must continue to adapt': Peter Schofield on 2022 – and the celebrity he'd get to cater his NYE party

"Who would I most like to join me for a New Year's Eve celebration? Mary Berry, on the basis that she would do the catering. But I’m sure she would be good company too!" Peter Schofield

'After Cop26, the Scottish Government must go further and faster': Leslie Evans looks ahead

Jayne Brady on 2021's 'testing mix of circumstances' for Northern Ireland and becoming the first female NICS head

'The biggest challenge we’ve faced has been responding to the increase in gender-based violence': Cross Government Gender Network

'We demonstrated how adaptable and innovative we can be': Andrew Goodall on how the Welsh Government tackled Covid

"Remote working, resource pressures, supporting a five-party coalition Executive and the unique challenges for Northern Ireland as a direct result of the EU exit have made for a testing mix of circumstances" Jayne Brady

'BEIS's biggest challenge has been a long and unpredictable to-do list': Sarah Munby reflects on 2021

‘The Brexit impact was massive’: IPO chief exec Tim Moss on an unprecedented year

‘I’m immensely proud of all my staff’: Helen Stephenson on a year of support and motivation at the Charity Commission

‘Lessons we’ve learned will stand us in good stead’: CCS chief Simon Tse looks back on 2021

"The indirect effects of Covid, ranging from the backlog of cancelled operations, through missed screening visits for heart disease, to the classroom hours that children have lost, will take many years to work through" Chris Whitty

'There has been a huge collective effort across government to do things differently': Projects chief Nick Smallwood looks back at 2021

'Helping prison leavers get jobs is a huge source of pride’: Recruitment regulator Peter Lawrence on a bumpy but rewarding year

‘Awarding qualifications fairly without exams isn’t straightforward’: DfE's Susan Acland-Hood reflects on a testing year

‘We are one step closer to our mission of restoring and enhancing the environment’: Defra’s Tamara Finkelstein on a momentous year

"We’ve shared our ideas on how to make real change happen when it comes to the elimination of gender-based violence, including small changes that can take place in departments" Cross-Government Gender Network

Matthew Rycroft on getting the Home Office ready for ‘whatever 2022 throws at the civil service’

‘We invested heavily in extensive safety measures’: DVLA’s Julie Lennard on a year of adaptation and innovation

'Our aim is to be more expert, engaged and collaborative': Joanna Davinson on setting up CDDO

'I fear Caravaggio would be disruptive': Jo Saxton shares her dream NYE guest list, and reflects on her first months as Ofqual chief

"Our number one priority for 2022? Defeat the evil geniuses at the Forestry Commission" Douglas Wilson

'Our interventions saved millions of jobs': Charles Roxburgh shares the Treasury's 2021 highlights

Speeding up inspections and getting children back on track – Amanda Spielman outlines Ofsted's plans

Douglas Wilson: How did AGO staff tackle the challenges of 2021? Strong coffee and a smile

'We want to do more storytelling and advocacy to demystify civil service roles': Social Mobility Network looks ahead

"Balancing HMRC’s priorities in 2021 felt like a high-wire act" Jim Harra

'Reforms will impact every aspect of our operation’ – Louise Smyth on Companies House's top priority

A family reunion in Spain and a Spending Review – Treasury public spending chief Cat Little’s 2021 highlights

‘The pressure has not let up’: Tom Read on leading GDS with honesty and empathy

Covid, post-EU checks and 'high-profile food incidents' – Emily Miles on how the FSA handled a ‘tough' 2021

"Employee networks do some of their best work when they build communities. One of the biggest challenges this year has been giving people that sense of belonging when the pandemic has still been happening around us" John Peart

Jim Harra: ‘Balancing HMRC’s priorities in 2021 felt like a high wire act’

Green savings bonds, going digital and a new business model: Ian Ackerley on NS&I's year of change

DE&S chief Simon Bollom praises ‘brilliant’ team – and hits back at negative publicity about major project costs

'Our biggest challenge has been returning to the office and the hybrid approach' – Disability Network's Sue Reeves on another pandemic year

"A major challenge has been maintaining morale and a sense of perspective (and sometimes gallows humour) in the face of scrutiny" Gareth Rhys Williams

‘Thriving in the face of unprecedented challenges’: National Archives chief Jeff James on an ‘encouraging’ year

'I don’t want to lose what we’ve gained from our new ways of working': LGBT+ Network chair John Peart reflects

Gareth Rhys Williams on 2021's toughest trials: 'maintaining morale (and gallows humour) in the face of scrutiny'

'Grit, resilience and a fantastic team': Madeleine Alessandri shares how the NIO powered through 2021

"I’d like to hear from HG Wells on what we can expect next from the 21st century. The last couple of years have had a science fiction feel to them and his imagination was more interesting than most" Gareth Davies

‘Huge honour’: Susanna McGibbon reflects on her first year as GLD chief

'The last couple of years have had a science fiction feel': Gareth Davies on the NAO's Covid scrutiny and trials of remote work

Breaking records and battling for better water quality – Environment Agency's Emma Howard Boyd reflects on 2021

‘We are absolutely determined to get it right’: Max Hill on one of the CPS's biggest challenges

All of the 2021 perm secs round-up entries were pubished in the December 2021 issue of CSW. Read the issue here. Read the 2020 round-up here


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