By Civil Service World

22 Dec 2015

With the end of 2015 in sight, we asked Whitehall's top officials to review the year, set out their priorities for 2016 – and shed some light on their festive plans. Debbie Alder and William Hague – currently leading civil service HR in a job-sharing role – take part in our biggest-ever perm secs' round-up series. Answers by Debbie Alder​


How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2015?
We have certainly had an eventful year in Civil Service Human Resources. This year we have played a pivotal role in supporting the civil service through the general election and Spending Review 2015. With the development of a CS Workforce Strategy and clear priorities from the minister for the Cabinet Office, we have focused on delivering shared challenges – capability and capacity, talent, diversity and inclusion, pay. This has highlighted more than ever the value of our community as a strengthened professional function, able to flex and deliver the strategic priorities of the civil service. 

The departure of Chris Last from CSHR left a legacy of HR leadership and a developed HR function. It also gave me and William the exciting opportunity to job-share the chief people officer role. I am proud that we have been able to continue building the HR function and community. We have strengthened this with OneHR, our own digital community that allows us to work together and join up to share best practice online. 

What are your department's top priorities in the year ahead?
The outcome of the Spending Review means that we will need to remain focused and forward-thinking on the most efficient and effective way to support the delivery of government commitments. Digital transformation remains a priority for the most effective public services, especially those that enable us to join our platforms across departments. So continuing to build, buy and borrow digital and technology capability is key. Likewise, we will remain focused on working with the Crown Commercial Service on up-skilling and improving our commercial capability – a central reform commitment. These two priorities require the ability to attract and retain as well as develop colleagues. We can only expect to deliver an exceptional service with a continued focus on strong leadership and talent development. 

We have also moved forwards in our commitment to make our workplace truly inclusive. We are now able to demonstrate how leaders are accountable, co-ordinated and consistent, with the introduction of the Permanent Secretary Diversity Objectives. This will remain a key part of our Talent Action Plan to ensure we are attracting and developing our future workforce.

As you will know, Rupert McNeil is the new chief people officer for the civil service and will be taking forward the hugely important role to support a best-in-class function. William and I are really looking forward to being a part of driving this forward. 

What film do you hope to watch over the festive period – and what’s the best game to play with the family on Christmas Day?
William is hoping to watch The Snowman and enjoy a game or two of Jenga with his family, while my husband definitely wants to see Star Wars (Han Solo was one of the first posters I ever had on my bedroom wall!)  

Perm secs round-up 2015: Whitehall's top civil servants review the year – and look ahead to 2016

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