Photos Baldo Sciacca
The DfT team that brought more than 100,000 tourists home after the collapse of Monarch Airlines, the Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit and a Home Office staffer who volunteers as an autism champion are among the winners of this year’s Civil Service Awards.
Forty-five shortlisted teams and individuals attended the event at Lancaster House last night, which also paid tribute to former cabinet secretary and head of the civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood following his death on Sunday from cancer after retiring last month.
The 15 category winners at the 14th annual awards, which celebrate innovation and dedication across departments – often inspired by circumstances and events beyond the control of officials and politicians – included 10 teams, some of them cross-departmental, and five individuals covering a spectrum of Whitehall operations.
The Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit – set up to deliver prime minister Theresa May’s 2016 pledge of a comprehensive audit of outcomes for people of different ethnicities across all public services – won the 2018 Chris Martin Policy Award.
Named in honour of the late principal private secretary to prime minister David Cameron, the award seeks to honour excellence in policymaking with a particular focus on the development of sound evidence bases through diverse sources of data.
The Race Disparity Unit’s nomination praised the team’s “tenacity, brilliance and sheer hard work” in putting together its first audit in October last year. It added that the project had led to the creation of a “strong pipeline of policy announcements” and that the team had become recognised as a “knowledge hub” for a wide range of issues relating to ethnicity, data, transparency and behaviour change.
The Department for Transport’s Monarch Repatriation Operation team won 2018’s Project Delivery Excellence Award for its efforts to repatriate more than 100,000 people following last year’s collapse of Monarch Airlines. Led by the department and the Civil Aviation Authority, the project effectively created the UK’s fifth-largest airline from scratch, hiring 60 planes in the process, to ensure passengers were not stranded.
The winner of the Diversity & Inclusion Award was Charlotte Dring, a civil servant at the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, who has developed the Cross Government Social Mobility Network from zero to 130 members and 10 departmental networks in just over a year.
The award was presented by Suzanne Heywood, the wife of Sir Jeremy, who said the area was one that had been very close to her husband's heart.
“Diversity and inclusion was something that Jeremy cared very deeply about. It was one of three priorities he chose when he became head of the civil service in 2014 – he narrowed down a very long list and this was one of the things that he really cared about,” she said.
“When he prioritised diversity, what he wanted to do was not just put more women in senior roles, which is important, but he wanted to prioritise diversity in all of its different forms – so this includes black and ethnic minority civil servants, disabled civil servants, having people from very different backgrounds and very different beliefs, with very different ways of thinking in the civil service.”
Such measures were intended to ensure the civil service represented the people that it served, she said.
“He believed that although the civil service is never able to offer the highest salary, it could be the employer that thought hardest and most creatively about how to develop and retain the most diverse workforce possible, and really focus on some of the people from under-represented groups,” Suzanne Heywood said. “This award was a big part of this vision for him, and I’m delighted that it is going to continue, and I’m sure he would be as well.
"I think the best way we can celebrate his memory is to continue to support the things that he believed in.”
There were a number of tributes to Heywood throughout the evening, including a video of contributions from people who had worked with the former cab sec.
His successor as cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill (left) said that Heywood should have presided over the awards.
He said Heywood was “unfollowable”, and the ceremony celebrated the immense contribution that he had made. “But as he would have been the first to remind us, the purpose of this evening is to celebrate the over 400,000 civil servants – and the several million public servants of which we are part – who have decided to dedicate their lives to serving their country and making the lives of their fellow citizens better. And for me, when we talk about impact, it is about the impact on our fellow citizens.”
DWP commercial success
Other award winners included the joint Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice Going Forward into Employment Project Team, which works with the Civil Service Commission to encourage the employment of ex-offenders in the civil service. The pilot project began in October 2017, working with three low security prisons in the North West of England to match ex-offenders with vacancies in civil service offices in the area. As of today, ten candidates are working in government.
The Department for Work & Pensions’ commercial team behind the People and Locations Programme, picked up the Commercial Award. The programme, which simultaneously exited a 20-year PFI contract for Jobcentres and other DWP buildings and delivered more than 650 new leases and six contracts, is expected to deliver £1.4bn in savings.
The Collaboration Award went to the Scottish Government team that led the development of the new Scottish General Medical Services Contract, which was launched this year and is the first entirely Scottish GP contract.
The Ministry of Justice's prison officer recruitment campaign team won the Communication Award, while the Government Digitial Service team that developed the Gov.UK Notify system won the Dame Lesley Strathie Operational Excellence Award.
The Digital Award was won by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency's MoT Reminder Service, while the Health & Wellbeing Award was won by the A to Z to Better Wellbeing Team, a cross-government team of civil servants and aspiring junior leaders who reinforce the government's “Brilliant Civil Service” vision by supporting health and wellbeing.
The Skills Award went to the Department for International Trade team that launched the International Trade Profession, the 28th civil service profession, which has 2,500 members from almost 25 departments and arm's-length bodies, including 12 departmental heads of profession who are embedding good practice on trade capability across government.
Individual winners of awards also included Home Office staff member Catherine Ramsay, who won the Volunteering Award for her work setting up the Autism Buddy Support Group, which has the support of senior managers across the Liverpool estate. Staff members from HM Revenue & Customs and DWP also attend.
Fergus McBean of the Department for International Development won 2018's Use of Evidence Award for his work in creating an early-warning system that allows United Nations partner organisations to prevent outbreaks of cholera. McBean combined weekly rainfall forecasting data and data on water-storage, temperature and topography to produce a monthly cholera risk assessment.
Gerry Reardon, who leads the DWP team specialising in Universal Credit complaints and official correspondence, won the Customer Service Award for “truly inspirational” dedication to customer service.
The Inspirational Leadership Award was won by Marina Pettigrew of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in recognition of her work to develop the department’s Central Correspondence Unit from scratch.
A full list of the winners is available on CSW's the Civil Service Awards Community webpage