By the end of the financial year, Aiken said yesterday, departmental communications directors will have identified their best performing communications professionals. They’ll then join the scheme, which will be launched during 2014 and develop future departmental communications directors. In selecting candidates, comms chiefs will use the existing civil service appraisal and performance management process, Aiken said.
The scheme is part of broader reforms to government communications, which last week saw the creation of a more coherent and centralised profession named the ‘Government Communication Service’. This service will have a central communications board, meeting three times a year; its remit is currently being developed. The profession will also work through the Directors of Government Communications Group, which meets every three weeks.
There is a new commitment to evaluate the effectiveness of all government communications work, Aiken said. “In 2010, we spent £1bn on communications. We now spend roughly £500m. Are we twice as efficient or half as effective? We didn’t evaluate, so it’s impossible to know,” he said.
Departments will use the comms evaluation model developed by the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC, but will be able to “develop and iterate” that framework to meet their requirements.
The service will centrally recruit new entry-level communications staff, who will be offered out to fill departmental vacancies.