Headlines: June 25th, 1998

The announcement that Peter Wanless has been appointed Director of Strategy and Communications for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport signals a major shift in the management of central departments. Traditionally work is organised in functional groupings in a combined policy and line management role. Responsibility for the big issues is fragmented and usually it is only at Grade 2 level that one individual becomes responsible. The creation of a Director of Strategy at Grade 3 will result in one person focusing on all the strategic issues, without the distraction of other tasks. The new Directorate will bring together long-term strategic planning and the whole range of external communications – press, publicity, speeches and briefing.

By combining Strategy and Communications the Department will ensure that policy development and presentation is coherent, consistent and effective, and that its partners, customers and the public have the best possible access to information about its work.

The DfEE was the first Department to adopt this strategic approach when it appointed Peter Wanless to a similar post. On his appointment in April 1998 he said: “Our Ministers want the DfEE to be a model Department for the new century: strategic, visionary, integrated, open and innovative, focused with others elsewhere in Government and beyond, on achieving the Government’s priority goals. The new Directorate has a central role to play in achieving this.”

Other Departments are likely to follow the lead of the DfEE and DCMS. A front runner may be the Foreign Office where recent developments relating to arms shipments to Sierra Leone have revealed a problem co-ordinating briefings for Ministers.