Government comms professionals trial AI-powered virtual assistant

In 2024 the Government Communications Service is looking to make greater use of technology, as well as partnering with online influencers and content creators, according to chief executive Simon Baugh

The yearly Permanent Secretaries Roundup published by PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World sees government’s senior leaders discuss the experiences of the past year – as well as shedding light on their plans for festive season and beyond. The Government Communications Services has plans to make greater use of technology and online influencers, according to chief executive Simon Baugh.

Tell us three words that sum up your 2023…
Collaboration. Innovation. Skills. The three pillars of the GCS strategy. They say that a good rule of thumb for communication is that when you’re sick of saying something, that’s the moment people begin to hear it. I am starting to feel like George Osborne must have felt about “long-term economic plan”.

….and why you chose those words. 
On collaboration – partnerships with those who share our goals and values are so important to changing behaviour. Almost none of the big challenges our country faces can be achieved by government acting alone. And the rise of influencers and content creators is creating interesting opportunities to partner with new media channels and reach audiences that government had traditionally struggled to reach.

On innovation – we’re currently testing our own GCS AI co-pilot. The intention is for it to be a virtual comms assistant for government communicators. It’s been developed in house with a user interface and GCS prompts built on a foundational model. It’s pretty exciting. Ask it for a comms plan and it will use our OASIS model. Ask it for campaign evaluation measures and it will use the GCS evaluation framework. The plan is to extend the pilot before rolling out more widely next year.

On skills – I want GCS members to be confident in using new technology and excited by its potential. Our new GCS Advance learning and development programme aims to deliver a measurable step-change in the skills of communicators with a focus on data, digital and AI. Our ambition is for 2,500 GCS members to be part of a GCS Advance programme by March 2025.

What are your organisational and personal priorities for 2024?  
My personal priority – to spend more of my time on the stuff that makes a difference and less on the stuff that really doesn’t. Easier said than done.

What’s your favourite festive treat, and what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug’?
Favourite – seeing a full Christmas stocking under the tree. Even when I’ve filled it myself, I still can’t help thinking: “He’s been!!”  

Bah, humbug – Fulham being drawn away for yet another Boxing Day fixture. When was our last home game on Boxing Day?

All entries in Civil Service World’s 2023 Permanent Secretaries Roundup can be read here

PublicTechnology staff

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