Select Committee on Regulatory Reform Written Evidence

Note prepared by Government Skills, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills


  The Regulatory Reform Committee has raised the issue about whether departments currently provide sufficient incentives, including career progression, for Better Regulation principles to be widely adopted and promoted in practice, and whether a lack of training in those areas could act as an obstacle to Better Regulation. The Committee Inquiry Manager wrote to Gill Rider, Director General, Civil Service Capabilities Group, Cabinet Office to request a brief note detailing to what extent senior civil servants received training to enable them to be fully cognisant of the importance of regulatory issues in the current scheme of things.


  This note seeks to provide the Committee with useful background on the relationship between the standards of performance for senior civil servants set out in the Professional Skills for Government competence framework and the Better Regulation agenda. The PSG standards of performance drive individual decisions about skills development. The note sets out some thoughts on the relative value placed on different types of experience and how they relate to career progression. And finally, it also addresses the training provision available through the National School of Government.


  All Senior Civil Servants are required to demonstrate and maintain competence against skill areas set out in the Professional Skills for Government competence framework. Training for members of the Senior Civil Service is targeted at supporting skills development in line with this framework. The competence framework sets out effective performance standards for a range of core and professional skills. Gaining broader experience is also a part of the framework for senior civil servants and work is in train to develop, by profession, criteria for what counts as broader experience appropriate to the role.

  For those in policy delivery roles, there are explicit references to the need to understand and work with the better regulation agenda. In particular, Impact Assessments are seen as a key source of evidence for effective performance against the standards in the framework. These standards are attached at annex a.

  In addition, the core skill of Analysis and Use of Evidence (see annex b) has been developed with the wider analytical community in Government. Competence in this skill supports the regulatory reform agenda, because the standards require senior civil servants to demonstrate that they are equipped to make sound, evidence based decisions as part of both the policy making and operational delivery cycle. The standards demand effective stakeholder engagement and appropriate risk management related to the quality of the evidence available. The work of the BRE has identified that the analytical community within Government is a critical partner in the delivery of the regulatory reform agenda.


  Alongside the competence framework, senior civil servants are also required to demonstrate broader experience. The decision taken by Permanent Secretaries Management Group in July 2007 to reform the broader experience criteria within SCS recruitment, allows entry and advancement criteria to be set on a profession by profession basis. This is critical to building a range of skills and in fostering a broader perspective which is often critical to really effective performance in senior roles. Sir Brian Bender, Permanent Secretary of Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, also chairs the Professional Skills for Government Programme Board as Head of the Policy Delivery Profession. On 27 November 2007 he wrote to colleagues to set out criteria for broader experience as they apply to fast streamers. By 2012 all new entrants to the SCS will have to satisfy the broader experience criteria as they apply to their profession.

  Individuals will gain this broader experience by undertaking a substantial role in another organisation. For those in policy delivery roles, this must be in an organisation engaged in operational delivery. The thinking behind this stipulation is that those responsible for developing government policy, including its regulatory aspects, need to have first hand experience of delivery to help them do their jobs effectively. The 2012 application of broader experience criteria in relation to SCS recruitment has been set to allow individuals to take up the right kind of opportunities so that there are sufficient numbers of people at the right level with the right kinds of experience.

  Tables showing the numbers of SCS who have worked in other sectors and showing what professional groupings they belong to are attached at annex c.


  We do not specify active adoption and promotion of better regulation as a key criterion for civil service progression but nor do we specify involvement in Bill teams as a general criterion for progression.

  Appointments and progression in the Civil Service are subject to the Civil Service Order in Council 1995 and the recruitment Code issued by the Civil Service Commissioners. This gives assurance that all appointments, including promotion of existing civil servants, are made on merit and on the basis of fair and open competition. The experience, qualifications, skills and qualities required to carry out any senior role are clearly identified. All applicants are considered equally on merit at each stage of the selection process and selection must be based only on criteria relevant to the job.


  A range of provision is offered by the National School of Government in support of the development and maintenance of these skills. The National School of Government (and its predecessors) has worked closely with the Better Regulation Executive (and its predecessors) for many years. Through personal contacts, meetings and workshops with the BRE, the National School has kept its own knowledge of Impact Assessments comprehensive and current in order that in its training it can ensure that what it teaches is both up to date and relevant, reflecting the views and emphasis of the BRE.

  For example, following the most recent revision of the Impact Assessment (as it changed from being the Regulatory Impact Assessment) the National School provided a series of events on the new Impact Assessment process and its application. These were delivered to individuals across main government departments who had been identified by the BRE as being instrumental in the successful implementation of the new regime. These took place from May to November 2007.

  More generally, in all its courses which cover policy development and implementation the National School includes some teaching on the Impact Assessment approach. This will explain the role of Impact Assessment in the development and implementation of policy and the way in which this dovetails with any generic policy process. The National School is also at pains to emphasise the importance attached by the Government to the correct use of the Impact Assessment process, including, for example, the role of the Ministerial Sub-Committee, the Panel for Regulatory Accountability (ED(PRA)) and the need to provide Impact Assessments alongside legislation and consultation documents. Such courses include, for example, "The Policy Environment" in the Senior Entrants' Programme, aimed specifically at those recruited into the civil service at old Grade 7 and above.

Government Skills

June 2008

Annex A



  1.  Ensure staff understand Parliamentary process and the roles of Ministers and civil servants, and influence effectively, as appropriate, at EU level.

  2.  Explain the delivery mechanisms for policies and how they fit with those elsewhere in the organisation and beyond.

  3.  Propose realistic, innovative and evidence based ways to deliver new objectives effectively and in line with RIA[49] requirements.

  4.  See delivery as an integrated part of policy development and ensure your team work effectively with all parts of the delivery chain.

  5.  Lead the work to ensure policies, programmes and services stay on track and, where possible, constantly improve.

  6.  Ensure that there is an effective relationship with delivery partners to monitor delivery.

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to...

  understand and explain the Department's responsibilities in supporting and serving Ministers, ensuring proper accountabilities, handling Parliamentary business and EU negotiations and processes; and provide evidence of...

    —  efficient handling of Parliamentary business (including bill work) in your area;

    —  supporting Ministers for select committees; and

    —  leading a team and influencing effectively at EU level;

  understand and explain the range of central Government functions and services which support, contribute and impose requirements on the development and operation of a policy delivery chain; and provide evidence of...

    —  involving appropriate stakeholders from Government services and associated bodies (eg HR, Stats, OGC); and

    —  ensuring your policy teams include consideration of Government mechanisms with an interest in delivery;

  understand and explain the characteristics of the delivery chains for your policy area and the impact engagement with the delivery chain has on the design of the policy; and provide evidence of...

    —  dealing with issues arising as a policy progresses, revisiting the design and altering objectives accordingly with reference to stakeholders;

    —  extracts from RIA documentation;

    —  significant (and early) relationships between policy teams and aspects of the delivery chain;

    —  joint working/problem solving with deliverers; and

    —  RIA documentation reflecting delivery impacts;

  understand and explain the contribution the policy team makes to programme design and the continuing role of policy staff in keeping programmes aligned with policy objectives; and provide evidence of...

    —  programme briefs reflecting policy objectives and RIA; and

    —  contribution to managing and monitoring processes;

  understand and explain how the team has established an evaluation framework and the arrangements for working with delivery partners to gather evaluation data and use it to improve delivery; and provide evidence of...

    —  evaluation documentation and arrangements for collection of data; and

    —  use of evaluation to improve delivery, learning lessons, communicating to others.


  1.  Steer the design of a range of policies taking account of legal environment, EU considerations, and guidance on policy/regulatory appraisal.

  2.  Confirm that advice, recommendations and actions within your area of responsibility take account of what is effective in delivering policy outcomes on the ground.

  3.  Ensure that teams within your area of responsibility have the ability to create a range of policy options and know how to evaluate them, based on the evidence.

  4.  Apply lessons learned from success and failure across different policy areas.

  5.  Ensure that your team identifies and anticipates risks in devising policies.

  6.  Ensure the establishment of inter-disciplinary teams with appropriate mix of skills.

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to...

  understand and explain how to motivate and steer policy teams through the policy process towards achieving strategic goals and ensure disciplinary mix is appropriate to the policy issue; and provide evidence of...

    —  working with a variety of policy issues at various stages in their development; and

    —  effective involvement and engagement with a range of disciplines;

  understand and explain the broader effects and impacts of legal, environmental, EU, international considerations and the practical significance of guidance and best practice affecting policy design, ensuring its effective application; and provide evidence of...

    —  keeping up to date with trends and guidance; and

    —  inputs and guidance to policy work/advice ensuring such factors are considered;

  understand and explain how to ensure that both delivery expertise and customer needs are included in the early stages of the policy process and reflected in policy outcomes; and provide evidence of...

    —  effective relationships with delivery stakeholders and their input to early stages of policy development; and

    —  advice and proposals balancing delivery considerations against policy aspirations;

  understand and explain the variety of sources of high level risk to policy success, how to ensure that opportunities are identified and that all such issues are prioritised and addressed and reflected in policy advice and the RIA; and provide evidence of...

    —  input to policy advice which highlight or suggest investigating broader/high level (eg to the Department or other policies); and

    —  policy documents or RIAs specifying a variety of risks/opportunities and measures to mitigate them;

  understand and explain how to ensure that the development of policy options draws on all relevant sources of knowledge/evidence, has considered innovative solutions, applies lessons learned and addresses all the risks and issues identified; and provide evidence of...

    —  regular (challenging/critical) discussion with policy teams on evidence needs, impact assessment, legal advice etc. and thoroughness; and

    —  higher level contact with stakeholders, deliverers, analysts at appropriate times.


  1.  Identify areas that need cross-cutting work and develop effective solutions.

  2.  Demonstrate an awareness of other strategies being delivered in the sector and identify opportunities to work together.

  3.  Identify the different strands of knowledge and expertise that need to be drawn on in addressing issues in your sector.

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to understand and explain...

    —  an overview of the sector, covering the main pressures and influences and all the Government policies which have an impact and how the direct and indirect (eg taxpayer, wider public) customer is impacted;

    —  the trends and developments within the sector, the potential impacts on and from other policies, and issues affecting sustainability;

    —  how to identify the opportunities that exist and emerge for partnerships and cross cutting work; and

    —  the main sources of knowledge and expertise which inform the sector and how to access and involve them in policy processes.

  And provide evidence of...

    —  relevant RIA extracts;

    —  background documents/briefings;

    —  meetings, reading, network etc which support keeping up to date;

    —  discussions etc with related policy leads and examples of building cross-cutting linkages;

    —  advice given to other teams/Departments/Ministers;

    —  attendance at events, meeting conferences etc; and

    —  contact with customers and their representatives.


  1.  Work with Ministers and their private offices to ensure policy meets their expectations.

  2.  Facilitate relationships with a range of people across government, the wider public sector and the EU who will or may be affected by issues within your area, and ensure effective engagement at EU level.

  3.  Develop and encourage relationships between individuals, teams and business units inside your organisation and beyond, and know how and when to contribute to cross cutting work.

  4.  Set clear expectations of your team to proactively engage, support and develop relationships with partners/stakeholders.

  5.  Build and use external networks and media to champion Departmental or Agency services and successes.

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to...

  understand and explain how to work effectively with Ministers and their private offices; and provide evidence of...

    —  good quality oral and written briefing for Ministers;

    —  effective support for events, meetings and decisions from policy teams; and

    —  a variety of policy work reflecting Ministers needs, and feedback from PO/Ministers;

  understand and explain how to work effectively with other Government Departments, the wider public sector and the EU to gain co-operation and make contributions in all relevant policy areas, and how to influence and work effectively with external stakeholders; and provide evidence of...

    —  a range of productive relationships and networks across the public sector and the EU;

    —  resolving tricky issues across organisational and sector boundaries;

    —  representing the Department at a variety of meetings/events; and

    —  leading teams representing and influencing across boundaries and at EU level;

  understand and explain the principles of effective consultation and the value it can add to relationships and policy development; and provide evidence of...

    —  well managed consultation exercises; and

    —  benefits realised through consultation.



  1.  Ensure that the vision and structure of the organisation support an integrated approach to policy delivery and regulation.

  2.  Ensure that the organisation monitors the complete delivery chain effectively, setting standards, ensuring they are met and facilitating change.

  3.  Ensure that the delivery of policy in your organisation is evaluated.

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to...

  understand and explain how your organisation integrates policy design, delivery and regulation in its structures and strategies; and provide evidence of...

    —  developing and promoting a vision which supports an integrated approach to policy delivery and regulation; and

    —  facilitating organisational change to promote an integrated approach to policy delivery;

  understand and explain how to set and maintain standards for the organisation which ensure consistency along the delivery chain, including formal role as SRO; and provide evidence of...

    —  active involvement in design and operation of monitoring systems, including sanctioning corrective action; and

    —  interventions in programme as SRO on standards;

  understand and explain the resources and systems needed for high quality evaluation of policy work and policy outcomes and benefits realisation; and provide evidence of...

    —  effective evaluation of policies; and

    —  allocating resources and specialists to evaluation.


  1.  Align the organisation's strategies and resources with those of the Government.

  2.  Encourage innovation and well managed risk taking in policy initiation, based on evidence and analysis, and remove obstacles to better policy design.

  3.  Clearly define and monitor levels of accountability and responsibility for policies, decisions and actions.

  4.  Ensure your organisation continuously uses lessons learned to improve policy design and embeds risk management effectively into its processes.

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to...

  understand and explain the Government's priorities and the pressures and influences which affect them; strategies for influencing and promoting Government strategies as they relate to your policy responsibilities and make effective contributions to other policies; and provide evidence of...

    —  high level input to the formulation of policy;

    —  steering policies to further Government priority areas; and

    —  organisation's strategy documents which reflect Government priorities;

  understand and explain how to structure organisational resources, communications and skills to reflect priorities; and provide evidence of...

    —  leading and steering organisational changes and bids for resources, internally and externally;

  understand and explain principles and benefits of high level risk management and the organisational cultures which support innovation and challenge in the design of policies; and provide evidence of...

    —  removing obstacles to well managed risk taking;

    —  encouraging and supporting risk takers and the use of best practice in risk management; and

    —  risk taking behaviour which demonstrates principles in actively managing high level risk;

  understand and explain how to identify and analyse the accountability chain for policies, decisions and actions within your organisation; and provide evidence of...

    —  applying the principles of public accountability within the structures and monitoring arrangements of your organisation; and

    —  ensuring policies are designed to uphold public accountability requirements;

  understand and explain the opportunities for learning lessons and continuous improvement to the policy process in your directorate; and provide evidence of...

    —  encouraging critical reflection on policies and processes; and

    —  the application of lessons to improve policy outcomes.


  1.  Scan the horizon to ensure that your organisation's vision and strategy takes account of future developments in the sector.

  2.  Anticipate the cumulative impact of all Government regulation on the sector and ensure appropriate revision to achieve desired outcomes.

  3.  Secure engagement and support from the sector for your organisation's and Government's strategic goals.

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to...

  understand and explain how to develop an awareness of the trends and developments in relevant sectors and ensure your organisation's strategies can respond to them; and provide evidence of...

    —  amending organisation's vision or strategy to accommodate sector's trends; and

    —  anticipating developments in policy design and delivery;

  understand and explain how to work across Government to identify all relevant areas which impact on your organisation's sectors and to assess and influence the cumulative effect of Government regulation; and provide evidence of...

    —  extracts from RIA which include consideration of total impacts of Government regulation; and

    —  meetings, correspondence etc, leading to reductions in cumulative impacts;

  understand and explain how to identify and gain access to key players in a sector, and use and create opportunities to advance Government and organisational objectives; and provide evidence of...

    —  access/attendance at significant sector events; and

    —  successful Department-led events which attract and influence key stakeholders.


  1.  Work closely with Ministers and retain their trust under pressure.

  2.  Represent the organisation's view across Government and external stakeholders to achieve effective outcomes for the organisation and Government as a whole.

  3.  Ensure that interdisciplinary working is used effectively as a means of achieving strategic goals. Develop and encourage relationships between individuals, teams and business units inside in my organisation and beyond. Know how and when to contribute to cross cutting work.

  4.  Make timely and proportionate high-level interventions to remove blockages and resolve issues.

  5.  Be a passionate advocate of the organisation's "Big Picture" with stakeholders and the media.

To meet this requirement you need to be able to...

understand and explain the pressures Departmental Ministers face, the responsibilities of the Department to deliver for Ministers and the sensitivities of the constitutional relationships;and provide evidence of...

    —  working with a variety of Ministers and handling difficult issues sensitively; and

    —  high level input to Ministerial policy advice and briefing;

  understand and explain strategies and protocols for representing the organisation and government at the highest levels inside and outside the public sector; and provide evidence of...

    —  representing the organisation successfully to a variety of stakeholders; and

    —  aligning goals with a variety of stakeholders;

  understand and explain structures and practices for effective interdisciplinary working and working across organisational boundaries; and provide evidence of...

    —  allocating resources and structuring work to facilitate and promote interdisciplinary working; and

    —  making an effective personal contribution to cross cutting work;

  understand and explain approaches and methods to identify and remove blockages and conflicts in policy work; and provide evidence of...

    —  successful interventions adding value to policy design and delivery; and

    —  good relationships which encourage early identification and escalation of difficult issues;

  understand and explain how to ensure effective communication of policies and priorities; and provide evidence of...

    —  interviews, articles etc. advancing the organisations goals, and communicating key messages.


  1.  Ensure that the collection, analysis and use of evidence in the organisation complements that of wider government:

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to understand and explain:

    —  the potential for synergy and/or cost-effectiveness from working across departmental boundaries and be informed of, and anticipate, the wider needs of government.

  And provide evidence of:

    —  past achievement; and

    —  credible evaluation of the potential for this.

  2.  Ensure the evidence base for the strategy and work of the organisation is open to critical challenge and inspires the confidence of stakeholders include:

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to understand and explain:

    —  the importance of evaluating all assumptions, perceptions and arguments using analysis and evidence;

    —  how you make your organisation's formation and use of analysis and evidence transparent to stakeholders;

    —  how you encourage and respond to critical feedback; and

    —  the provisional nature of all knowledge.

  And provide evidence of:

    —  work appropriately guided and informed by analysis and evidence;

    —  effective communication with stakeholders, including the caveats that they should observe in assessing the analysis and evidence provided;

    —  feedback from and appropriate response to stakeholders;

    —  having implemented risk management approaches related to the fragility of evidence; and

    —  reconsidering decisions in the light of more recent or more robust evidence.

  3.  Set demanding standards for the use of evidence in line with government requirements and proprieties, and ensure that they are met:

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to understand and explain:

    —  how wider standards and proprieties are relevant to your organisation; and

    —  how you ensure that all work in your organisation meets the relevant standards and proprieties.

  And provide evidence of:

    —  clear guidelines on this; and

    —  an audit trail of adherence throughout the organisation.

  4.  Champion the role of analysis/evidence in the organisation and maintain an effective relationship with relevant experts:

  To meet this requirement you need to be able to understand and explain:

    —  how you communicate and promote, including by personal example, the need for evidence-based working.

  And provide evidence of:

    —  past achievement; and

    —  an account of how you would do this.

Annex C

Profession of Person
Total SCSWith experience in other sector of 12 months or more
NumberNumber %

73 6386.3%
ECONOMICS160100 62.5%
FINANCE156125 80.1%
LEGAL420313 74.5%
LIBRARIAN22 100.0%
MEDICAL10479 76.0%
N/K1047416 39.7%
OTHER197140 71.1%
PLANNING128 66.7%
SCIENCE9573 76.8%
STATISTICS6226 41.9%
TAX INSPECTOR13652 38.2%
VETERINARY1111 100.0%
TOTAL SCS40722393 58.8%

June 2008

49   References to RIA are to be changed to IA. Changes to the framework need to be cleared with the PSG programme board. Back

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Prepared 21 July 2008