More work needs to be done to ensure that new recruits to the Civil Service understand the values that govern their work. The call has come from the First Civil Service Commissioner, Baroness Prashar, in launching the Commissioners’ annual report.She said it was important – at a time when the Service was under pressure to adapt to new ways of doing business – that the Civil Service Code, which sets out the values that underpin the work of civil servants, was promoted to and properly understood by new staff.
Baroness Prashar said a substantial number of appointments to senior posts were being filled by open competition. New blood and new skills were vital to the organisation, and getting the best people was imperative but the service also needed to ensure that people appointed in this way understood the Code and values that protected the impartiality of the Civil Service.
She said the Commissioners hoped to be able to reinvigorate the Code and to make it ‘part of the furniture’ for Britain’s half a million Civil Servants. Following the government’s response to the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Commissioners would have new responsibilities to work with departments to promote the Code as well as to hear appeals.
They had already reviewed the Recruitment Code and had produced a new web based version that provided a clearer and more accessible way for everyone to understand the principles that the Commissioners uphold. “2003-4 also saw the publication of two draft Bills on the Civil Service, from the Public Administration Select Committee and Lord Lester of Herne Hill. Both would put the Civil Service Code and our Recruitment Code on a statutory basis. The Government’s draft Civil Service Bill is still awaited. We hope that an early opportunity will be found to present this to Parliament, ” she added.