By Civil Service World

10 Dec 2010

Permanent secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government

What was your highlight of 2010?
Clearly, my appointment as permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government has got to be the highlight of the year for me. Although I was sad to leave the Homes and Communities Agency, and being at the helm for its inception was a real privilege, this is an absolutely fantastic opportunity to lead a department that is central to delivering so many of the coalition government’s key aims.

What is the biggest opportunity that coalition policies have created for the civil service?
Obviously we are undergoing a period of great change, with some very big issues to address. This department has a key role to play in delivering a major element of the government’s agenda: localism. Doing this successfully will depend enormously on the department’s ability to work closely with others across Whitehall, and I have already started to work on building new relationships and ways of working with colleagues in other departments.

What is the most challenging management task facing the civil service now?
The civil service, like many other organisations, is facing up to some pretty major changes. Many departments, including DCLG, are facing a significant restructure and the key message I want to get across is that this is not just a cost-cutting exercise, it is a fundamental change in the role and purpose of our department, and should be seen as part of a wider move across Whitehall to a smaller, more strategic role.

And what’s the key to succeeding in that task?
Managing such significant change will not be easy, but I am determined that we will have a process that will be as open, transparent and fair as possible. We need a clear sense of direction about what the department is going to look like, and to communicate this with complete honesty to staff.

What is the best Christmas present you have ever given or received? And the worst?
One of the best presents I have had has been an iPhone, which I got from my wife last Christmas. I have become a bit of an ‘apps addict’, and get a lot out of it. Probably the worst mistake I made one year was to give my wife something useful. I have never repeated the error since!

Read the most recent articles written by Civil Service World - 'What keeps you awake at night?': A guide to the government risk management profession


Share this page