The government’s plan to create a flexible working environment with improved IT tools and streamlined security requirements for civil servants is significantly behind on its progress.
A commitment to a ‘modern workplace’ for public sector workers was outlined in the Civil Service Reform Plan, released a year ago, which said the aim was to create a “decent working environment for all staff, with modern workplaces enabling flexible working”.
However, a report released this week by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude outlines that there is still significant work that needs to be done. It gave the commitment a red rating, which means that it is either significantly delayed or off track.
Some departments are making good progress in enhancing the workplace, according to the latest report, but there is little cross-government work to achieve the goals of the commitment at present.
“We are putting resources and an implementation plan in place. Changes should be felt on the ground later this year,” reads the report.
“We will be taking much more action to address IT issues for civil servants, which remain one of the greatest frustrations for staff.”
Maude outlines that this reform has the greatest potential to improve civil servants’ day-to-day working lives, but it is the one where the least progress has been made. The report calls for resources to be secured and for the implementation be prioritised.
To improve on its current position, flexible working guidelines will be introduced from autumn 2013 onwards, which Maude hopes will allow staff to embrace working from different locations. However, more importantly, common IT platforms will be introduced to “accelerate adoption of modern, flexible and resilient devices for civil servants”.
Trials will begin during 2014, where the Cabinet Office will be used as an exemplar department.
The Civil Service Reform report card also revealed that the government’s digital-by-default agenda, which aims to save taxpayers £1.7 billion a year after 2015, is being put at risk by a serious skills gap in the Civil Service.