New civil service chief issues call for government to ‘unlock the potential of data’

Incoming cabinet secretary Simon Case praises ‘innovative’ response to coronavirus

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

In his first message to officials, new cabinet secretary Simon Case has praised the “innovative” ways in which civil servants have responded to coronavirus and called for government to do more to “unlock the potential of data”.

In an internal memo, seen by PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, Case (pictured above) told staff they “will need to pull out all the stops to deliver what the public expects”.

“Our response to the coronavirus pandemic has shown what we are capable of, thousands of you have worked tirelessly over the last few months to design innovative ways of delivering front-line services to our citizens,” Case wrote. “We must build on this momentum and also demonstrate our ability to act as an effective, evidence-driven, New data standards for governmentservice. This will be vital as we continue our journey towards becoming a world-leading 21st-century government machine with people that can unlock the potential of data, invite challenge and remove the obstacles that frustrate us.”

The new Whitehall chief, a former No.10 parliamentary private secretary and senior Brexit official, has been heading up the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis since he was appointed No.10 permanent secretary in May. That appointment marked his return to the civil service after two years as private secretary to Prince William.

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He said he was taking on the mantle as head of the civil service from previous postholder Sir Mark Sedwill “in what can fairly be described as challenging times”.

“This includes managing the Covid-19 pandemic, kickstarting the nation’s economic recovery, navigating the transition out of the EU, maintaining the integrity of the union, all while supporting the government to deliver on its ambitious manifesto commitments.”

The cab sec said there was already “amazing talent and ambition” among government officials “and we must find every way to unleash it”.

“One of my top priorities is to fire up an innovative, energetic, imaginative civil service that puts the citizen at the heart of what it does and delivers the best results for the UK,” he added. “I am certain that with your hard work, can-do team spirit and innovation we can draw upon our huge array of talent as we modernise the civil service ready to lead the country into a bright future.”

And Case said he wanted to place on record his “warm thanks” to his predecessor. Sedwill stepped down this week after two years in the job.


Sam Trendall

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