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Civil Service Quarterly 14: Editorial

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Chris Wormald, Permanent Secretary – Department for Health
Sir Chris Wormald, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health

Welcome to the 14th edition of Civil Service Quarterly (CSQ).

This edition has a particular focus on economics (and economists) in government.

In our lead article, “Charting productivity in the UK economy”, Treasury economists Henry Shennan and Dominic Muir use a series of annotated charts to illustrate the scale of the UK’s productivity challenge on different measures, international, national, regional and sectoral.

In a companion piece, “Building our Industrial Strategy”, Tom Gelderd, from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, sets out the thinking behind the strategy Green Paper from his position as an adviser on the project.

John Curnow, Chief Economist at Defra, throws light on an emerging area of economics, the insights it can provide to inform environmental policy and how we care for the natural environment, in How do you put a value on 'natural capital'?.

In “Economics in government: more open, more diverse, more influential”, members of the Government Economic Service, Thomas Bearpark and Andrew Heron, with HMRC’s Ben Glover, chart the growth of a new Civil Service network, Exploring Economics. This is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of economics among civil servants and builds on the conviction that economics and economists, in common with every other part of the Civil Service, can actively benefit from greater diversity.

As Conrad Bird, director of the GREAT campaign, explains in “Why evaluation is GREAT”, the decision to place evaluation at the heart of the programme from the outset was essential in managing a global campaign of its size and complexity.

Other articles in this edition include:

  • Civil Service Live – ten years of learning – Alex Aiken, Executive Director, Government Communications, celebrates the tenth year of the biggest learning and development event for civil servants, and why it’s more important than ever.
  • We’re better connected – developing a knowledge network within the Civil Service Richard Banks, Head of the Policy Profession Support Unit, and Helen Anderson, Government Equalities Office, look at how knowledge sharing platforms are helping to make sure that valuable personal experiences of and insights into working in the Civil Service are not lost to current and future policy professionals.
  • DefraLex: making legislation more accessible and transparent – Steve Darling, Head of Better Regulation at Defra, writes about the development of DefraLex, an online facility, currently unique in Whitehall, that gives information on all Defra’s legislation currently in force, providing far greater detail and greater accessibility for stakeholders and the public.

Finally, rounding out the economy theme and closing this edition of Civil Service Quarterly, we are grateful to Robert Chote, Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), for granting us a fascinating interview on the role and significance of the OBR.

I hope you enjoy this issue. You can give us your views and comments on the Civil Service Quarterly blog (, by email (, or via #CSQuarterly on Twitter. If you would like to submit an idea for a feature in a future edition, please get in touch.

We will be publishing each of the articles in the latest edition of Civil Service Quarterly (CSQ 14) as a blog post over the coming weeks. If you would like to see the full publication, you can download it here as a PDF.

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