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Civil Service Quarterly 15: Editorial

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

Welcome to this 15th edition of Civil Service Quarterly (CSQ), which takes as its main theme, security in government, in a variety of aspects.

We lead off with an article from Dan Chugg, who describes the strategic communications operation he set up for countering Daesh propaganda. This is a crucial part of the work of the Global Coalition for the Defeat of Isis.

The role of Science in emergencies is the subject of an article by Professor Chris Whitty, in his capacity as interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser. He looks at the science-based response of the UK Government to four international and domestic emergencies, from the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, to the flooding of the Somerset Levels in 2013-14.

In From crime scene to court – the science of explosives, Charlie Stansfield offers first-hand insight into the little-known work of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL). The oldest facility of its kind in the world, but deploying state-of-the-art capability, the FEL has supported investigations into terrorist atrocities such as the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie and, more recently, the Manchester Arena attack.

Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, considers the Government’s response to what he calls, “the biggest problem facing the UK in cyberspace – the accumulation of high-volume, low-sophistication, automated attacks from criminals and states”. In Active cyber defence for the UK, he outlines measures in the Active Cyber Defence programme, launched in mid-2017, that focus on protecting the Government and public services from such attacks by improving the basic level of defences.

Other articles in this edition include:

  • Civil Service transformation – John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service, looks at the forces driving profound change and improvement in the UK Civil Service, and how they are challenging the organisation to accelerate towards its goal of becoming the best civil service in the world.
  • Supporting the rise of experimental government Dr Jen Gold, Head of the What Works Team at the Cabinet Office, considers the opportunities for government departments to generate more of their own evidence of what works to inform decision-making. And she asks: “What if policy teams routinely made policy in a fundamentally different way?”
  • Policy Propeller: transforming policymaking in the Department for Transport (DfT)DfT’s Ana Costea and Pauline Reeves provide a progress report on the Policy Propeller scheme and how it is meeting the challenge for the department to test its own thinking and generate fresh policy ideas.

The subject of The CSQ Interview, which closes this edition, is Campbell McCafferty, the Government’s first Chief Security Officer. In responding to a question about the major security threats facing the UK, he pinpoints keeping pace with and even staying ahead of the rapid pace of change in technology as the biggest challenge to government and the country at large.

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 15) 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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