Public Services > Central Government

Whitehall civil servants build traction over ‘One Team Government’ goal

David Bicknell Published 05 July 2017

Advocates such as Kit Collingwood-Richardson in DWP and James Reeve in DfE argue working across professions and departments as well as making policy and delivery the same thing can improve government efficiency


A group of Whitehall civil servants is coming together with the goal of working across disciplines to make both government and the wider public sector more effective.

Their goal is to try and reform government for citizens’ benefit, with a focus of making it fit “for the Internet age.”

The group, which numbered 186 individuals in a meeting held at the end of June, but which is now growing as others express interest, is calling itself “One Team Government.”

In a blog post on Medium, Kit Collingwood-Richardson who leads the data team at Universal Credit, in the Department for Work and Pensions, described the thinking behind One Team Government.

Collingwood-Richardson said, “On 29th June, 186 people came together in London to talk about how we could work across disciplines to make government more effective.

“Three months before that I heard James Reeve [a senior policy advisor at the Department for Education] talk about making policy and delivery the same thing. I realised that there are ‘policy profession’ events or ‘service design’ events, but nowhere we could get together to break down barriers and talk about shared problems and goals. This creates mistrust and antipathy, and means that siloed thinking can thrive.

“I wanted to change that. I wanted a place where anyone, regardless of their profession, discipline or background, could come to talk about government: giving better advice; offering better services; or being a better place to work.”

Collingwood-Richardson hopes that the work that went into creating the One Team Government event can create a lasting movement and become a “positive player in public sector reform.”

Collingwood-Richardson described One Team Government as “a community, united and guided by a set of principles. Together, we are working to create a movement of reform through practical action.

“The community is made up of people who are passionate about public sector reform (we deliberately want this to be wider than just government), with the emphasis on improving the services we offer to citizens and how we work. We believe the public sector can be brilliant, and we’re committed to making it so.

“You don’t have to work for government to be in the community, nor be a public servant in the wider sense, nor indeed be in the UK; we need diverse perspectives, with people of all sectors, areas and interests helping. We think we’re unstoppable if we work together.”

The initial thinking outlined in Collingwood-Richardson’s blog is that the One Team Government movement should be guided by seven principles:

  • Work in the open and positively
  • Take practical action
  • Experiment and iterate
  • Be diverse and inclusive
  • Care deeply about citizens
  • Work across borders
  • Embrace technology

Collingwood-Richardson argued that “diverse views make our outcomes and services better. We will be characterised by our work to break down boundaries between groups.”

So, One Team Government plans to work across professions, making policy and delivery the same thing, building empathy and understanding between policy, digital, operations and others. It also intends to work across departments, with every One Team Government piece of work being shared with other departments, through ‘show and tells’ or by sharing documentation.

One Team Government also intends to work across sectors, creating a community that includes think tanks, academics, charities and private sector organisations.  It will also work across borders by focusing on being “global civil servants” looking “to find common ground with other nations and sharing experiences with them.”

In terms of providing public sector reform for the internet age, One Team Government intends to be a technology-enabled community, using online tools to collaborate, network and share. It says, “We will put the best of digital thinking into policy and service design, using technology to make us quicker, smarter, better and more data-driven. We will help to shape a public sector we can be proud to work in in the 21st century.”

In the Medium blog, Collingwood-Richardson asked for other interested civil servants to join the community and contribute to and improve its ideas.

For more information or to sign up, visit the Slack Channel for One Team Government


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