Speaking yesterday at the NICS Live event in Belfast, which was run in partnership with CSW, McKibbin added that the economic and social environment makes this a particularly challenging time for civil servants, but that they need to “step up to the plate and deliver”.
“We must give [ministers] quality advice in a timely way so they understand the consequences of their decisions, whether that be positive or negative,” he said. “In our devolved administration ministers get advice from a range of sources: special advisers; external groups; people they meet at the weekends. They are inundated with advice. Therefore, our advice has to be higher quality. It must be evidence-based, informed by experience and with delivery insight.
“We must enable politicians to have more confidence in our competence if they are to properly value our information and our service,” he said. “It’s up to us to demonstrate our worth.”
However, McKibbin also warned that the civil service must work with external partners. “It would be incredibly arrogant to believe we can solve society’s problems on our own,” he said. “The challenges are of such a scale it will also need a response from the private and public sectors, and will need individuals to assume more responsibility for their actions. We need to work collaboratively with colleagues and organisations from within and outside the civil service.”
The civil service, he added, “needs to be well led, motivated, efficient, responsive and adaptable.” “We must enable politicians to have more confidence in our competence if they are to properly value our information and our service. It’s up to us to demonstrate our worth.”