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The Civil Service ''Can Drive the Recovery''
Source: http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=18378
Source Date: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Focus: ICT for MDGs
Country: Europe
Created: Dec 22, 2011

The civil service is the engine room for recovery, the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell has said in one of his last newspaper articles before he steps down on 1 January 2012 – his final interview in this role (and as head of the civil service) appears in the January edition of Public Servant which is published tomorrow.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, O'Donnell said: "It is not enough now for the civil service simply to respond to a dampened economic climate; it needs to become a central part of its recovery and growth. We must be more creative and innovative in the way we solve problems without always resorting to the creation of new rules."

He went on: "A changing Britain – and a changing world – means that the service needs to remain adaptable. The Arab Spring came as a surprise to all of us, but I'm extremely proud of the way the military, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and home civil service responded to its demands. Over the next few years, there will be enormous challenges, such as whether to keep our kingdom united and how to make the EU operate in the best interests of its citizens.

"But it is today's economy that poses arguably the biggest challenge. There is of course some cultural inertia to overcome, but there is a voracious appetite among departments to take on this challenge: to keep adapting, to think more creatively, to reach out to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to find better ways to fulfil the duties of government without increasing the cost. We know we need to deliver better for less."

O'Donnell said the civil service should be prepared to take more risks.

"In a media environment where failure is punished much harder than success is celebrated, this is more difficult for ministers and civil servants than for our friends and colleagues in the private sector. There are some promising signs that we can, in fact, do this quite well, but taking risks means having a grown-up approach to failure. We should celebrate success and learn from failure.

"The more we can innovate, the more we can find alternatives to legislation and regulation, and the more we can overcome our aversion to risk, the more we can help drive the economy and really ensure the civil service is an engine room for growth. I would be proud of that legacy."
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