By CivilServiceWorld

19 Dec 2012

Jonathan Stephens

Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Which events or policies have dominated your attention during 2012, and how have you tackled them?

The highlight has to be the Olympic & Paralympic Games. DCMS, as lead government department, has been preparing for this for seven years.

The Games brought out the best in the Civil Service – working together across 19 or more government departments, with strong professional skills, effective project and programme management, and continuity of leadership – and huge commitment and flexibility from so many civil servants; both those who went the extra mile in ensuring that the government played its part, and the many who were Olympic volunteers.

How have the shape and capabilities of your department changed during 2012? 

This year has required huge flexibility and commitment from our people in DCMS. We had to pick up the unexpected – the Leveson inquiry – and plan for our role in delivering not just the Olympics but also the Diamond Jubilee.

This has meant two-thirds of our people moving off their regular jobs to take up Games-time roles, with special shift programmes and new responsibilities. They rose to the challenge magnificently – all the more so because, immediately after the Games, we all knew we had to complete the reduction of our running costs to 50 per cent of 2010 levels.

What are the main challenges facing your department in 2013?

I think we’ve seen that the vision for the civil service in the Reform Plan has really worked over the Olympics. I’ve seen one of Whitehall’s smallest departments working with so many others to successfully deliver the world’s largest event on time and on budget. If the Olympics brought out the best in the Civil Service, I think we’re all trying in our change programmes and the Reform Plan to see the best become the standard.

Which aspects of the Civil Service Reform Plan are most important to improving the capabilities and operations of your department?

The core principles of the Reform Plan – flexibility, innovation and excellence – were brilliantly demonstrated this year at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The DCMS led on this within government and worked with a vast array of other bodies, both public and private sector, to deliver what everyone agrees was a triumph that the whole world recognised. Our challenge for 2013 and the future beyond is clearly to retain this spirit in our own future projects, and also to act as a template for success that others can follow in their endeavours.

Cracker jokes are notoriously bad. Can you give your colleagues a good joke to tell over the Christmas dinner table?

No, but our ever-versatile press office have provided one. On a visit to the Olympic Park during the track and field events, I met a man carrying a 12-foot metal stick. “Are you a pole vaulter?” I asked. “No,” he replied. “I’m German. But how did you know my name is Walter?

To read more from permanent  secretaries, visit the perm secs' round-up homepage

Read the most recent articles written by CivilServiceWorld - Bid to block whistleblower’s access to ministers


Culture Leadership
Share this page