Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office : Introduction | Management Unit | Organisation Chart
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Guide to the Centre of Government


Who Does What in the Cabinet Office

Public Service Delivery

Modernising Public Services
Office of the e-Envoy

Regulatory Impact Unit

Cross-cutting Issues 

Performance and Innovation Unit
Social Exclusion Unit
Womenís Unit

UK Anti-Drugs Unit

Regional Coordination Unit

Civil Service management

Centre for Management and Policy Studies
Civil Service Corporate Management Command
Government Information and Communications Service (GICS)



The Cabinet Office aims to ensure that the Government delivers its priorities. It does this by working with No 10, departments and others, to modernise and co-ordinate government. Its goals are excellence in policy making and responsive, high quality public services. It provides the secretariat for the Cabinet and its various subcommittees.

Apart from some units that report directly to the Prime Minister or the Head of the Civil Service, the Minister for the Cabinet Office takes day to day charge of the Cabinet Office, supported by two Ministers of State and a Parliamentary Secretary. Organisational details can be found on the Cabinet Office website:

Cabinet Office objectives include:

Providing efficient arrangements for collective decision making, including analyses of policy and performance that cut across more than one part of Government, and systems which promote co-ordinated action and presentation.
Promoting the development of public services, programmes and regulation across the public sector which meet the needs of users and which are of a high quality, modern and well co-ordinated.

The main work of the Cabinet Office is grouped around four broad areas:

public service delivery;
cross-cutting issues;
Civil Service management.

The following sections describe the organisations in each of these areas.


There are a number of Secretariats in the Cabinet Office. Their core function is to support collective decision making by the Government of the day. The Secretariats service Cabinet and Cabinet Committees, and advise the Chairman of each Committee on the handling of particular issues. The Secretariats also broker agreement between Departments where policy initiatives cannot otherwise be agreed.

Individual Secretariats deal with different subject areas:

economic, legislative and domestic issues;
European Union matters;
defence and foreign policy;
security and intelligence;
constitutional reform.

The role of Secretariats constantly develops and increasingly involves the active monitoring of policy development within Departments. Working with No.10, the Secretariats aim to identify and resolve key policy issues. This includes helping No.10 to identify the Governmentís priorities for action and advising No.10 and Departments on the handling of issues.

The Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat (EDS) supports Ministerial Committees on the full range of domestic and economic issues. The main policy decisions are made by the Home and Social Affairs Committee (HS) and by the Economic Affairs Committee (EA). EDS also supports Ministerial Committees dealing with issues as diverse as GM Foods and Biotechnology and Women's Issues and Equality.

EDS supports works with Departments to identify strategic challenges and drive forward the achievement of the Government's agenda. It manages the legislative programme, advising the Legislative Programme Committee (LP) and the Government Business Managers, and supports the Treasury in managing the Spending Review process through the Public Services and Public Expenditure Committee (PSX). EDS advises Ministers and Departments on handling issues, particularly where issues are highly contentious or complex, and brokers agreement between Departments where policy issues remain unresolved.

The function of the European Secretariat is to coordinate the Governmentís policy on EU issues across Departments, at both Ministerial and official level. It supports the Foreign Secretary in his role as Chairman of the Ministerial Committees dealing with EU affairs. It also provides the Prime Minister, his staff and other Ministers with advice on the substance and presentation of EU issues.

The key function of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat is to ensure the effective co-ordination, across all Government Departments and Agencies, of policy on defence, security and foreign affairs. It is at the forefront of work to advance the Governmentís agenda in these areas, as well as developing longer term strategy. This is achieved through the formal Cabinet Committee machinery, such as the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee, as well as through ad-hoc arrangements.

The Secretariat also provides timely and informed advice to the Prime Minister and other Ministers on all major defence and overseas issues (except for EU business). In addition, the Secretariat is also responsible for the UKís crisis management machinery, including maintaining plans and facilities for responding to home and overseas emergencies. It plays a central role in crisis management, by bringing together officials from key Departments to co-ordinate the United Kingdom's political, military and economic response to crises. It also conducts two major exercises each year to test both national and Departmental crisis management plans, procedures and facilities.

The Intelligence and Security Group comprises the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO) and Security Division. The JIOís role is to support the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which provides Ministers and senior Officials with regular intelligence assessments on a range of issues of immediate and long-term importance to national interests, primarily in the fields of security, international crime, defence and foreign affairs. The JIC also sets intelligence requirements and priorities of the intelligence agencies, and scrutinises their performance in meeting those requirements.

Further information on the JIO can be found in the National Intelligence Machinery booklet, or on the internet Security Division provides policy advice to Government on the protection of its personnel, information and other assets.

The Constitution Secretariat (CS) supports Ministerial Committees on the full range of constitutional reform issues. The Secretariat manages the relationship between the UK Government and the devolved administrations, acting as secretariat to the Devolution Policy Committee and the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) enabling the Government to achieve its wide policy objectives of making devolution a success. The Secretariat also acts as the UK side for the British-Irish Council (BIC), an institution which was part of the Belfast Agreement agreed by the British and Irish Governments as part of the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland.

The CS covers other constitutional reform commitments including Incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights, Freedom of Information, House of Lords Reform, a strategic authority for London, electoral reform and an independent Statistical Service. On the House of Lords reform, the Secretariat is acting both as lead policy department, advising the Leader of the House of Lords as lead Minister and as a conventional secretariat to the committee.

In addition, the secretariat has; a legal team that provides advice on the new legislation in all areas covered by the secretariat, and on its implementation; the post of Cabinet Office Adviser on Parliamentary Procedure, who advises the President of the Council and Business Managers on issues of parliamentary handling and procedure; and provides support to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, the Civil Service Commissioners, the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, through four small offices.

The Secretariat is also responsible for providing support to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, the Civil Service Commissioners, the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, through four small offices.

Another, more specialised secretariat is the Ceremonial Branch. It has responsibility for the development of policy on all honours matters and plays a key role in co-ordinating activity across all government departments. Its main functions are:

providing a service to members of the public wishing to nominate someone for a national honour;
preparing recommendations for the Prime Ministerí Honours Lists twice a year;
co-ordinating the assessment individuals to receive national bravery (or gallantry) awards;
supporting the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals which advises the Sovereign on all honours matters, including the institution of new medals and awards; and
providing the Secretary to the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee.


In carrying out these functions, the Branch has established a network of Honours Secretaries across all government departments and provides support and guidance to them on all aspects of honours work.

The Central Secretariat provides advice to the Head of the Home Civil Service, Ministers, and Departments on a wide range of issues, including:

ministerial responsibilities and accountability;
structure and organisation of government;
propriety, standards and ethical issues in relation to Ministers, Special Advisers and other civil servants;
public appointments and public bodies.

The Central Secretariat services the Cabinet Office Management Board. It is the Cabinet Officeís point of contact with the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, and the Governmentís point of contact with the Parliamentary Ombudsman. It also sponsors the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, which examines current concerns about the standards of conduct of all holders of public office, and reports to the Prime Minister.

Contacting the Secretariats

Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat tel: 020 7270 0055

European Secretariat tel: 020 7270 0086

Defence and Overseas Secretariat tel: 020 7270 0280

Intelligence and Security Group tel: 020 7270 0463

Constitution Secretariat tel: 020 7270 5905

Ceremonial Branch: tel: 020 7276 2773


Central Secretariat tel: 020 7276 2469



Public Service Delivery


Modernising Public Services

The Modernising Public Services Group (MPS) in the Cabinet Office is at the heart of the Governmentís drive to modernise public services. It is made up of four divisions:

Modernising Government Division;
Responsiveness Division;
Quality Division;
Effective Performance Division. 

MPS played a major part in the 1999 Modernising Government White Paper, leading on the responsive and quality public services chapters (3 & 4). There is more about the Modernising Government agenda in Part III of this guide. The MPS Group aims to:

work with other service providers to raise the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of public services;
make public services more responsive to the needs of the citizen;
carry forward the overall agenda established by the Modernising Government White Paper. 

Current MPS activities include:

Co-ordinating and encouraging the Cabinet Office, other government departments, and other public sector partners to implement the Modernising Government White Paper;
Encouraging the use of quality schemes and benchmarking (such as the Charter Mark Awards Scheme and the European Foundation for Quality Managementís Excellence Model) as a means of driving up performance and securing continuous improvement;
Developing a consumer test to measure and benchmark customer satisfaction with public services and build on the work of the Peopleís Panel;
Promoting innovation and joined-up working, through running the Invest to Save budget in co-operation with the Treasury;
Leading on the Better Government for Older People programme, pioneering better ways of consulting and involving older people and designing services to meet their needs;
Co-ordinating the Better Quality Services programme in which all Government services and activities will be reviewed over the next 5 years to identify the best supplier;
Revising the Governmentís approach to reviews of Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies, in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of services delivered to the public;
Promoting good practice and innovation through the Beacon Scheme for central government and wider application of the principles to the rest of the public sector;
Encouraging the development of high quality new and revised charters.

Contacting MPS Group

Modernising Government White Paper queries tel: 020 7276 1495

all other queries tel: 020 7276 1734




Office of the e-Envoy

The Office of the e-Envoy was set up to lead the UK in its drive to be the best place in the world for e-commerce. This includes pressing forward with e-Government; developing and reviewing strategic thinking on e-commerce more broadly; involving business in facing the challenges; spreading the benefits throughout society; promoting the UK's e-strategies internationally; and monitoring progress.

Three teams lead the work:

i. the e-Government team is tasked with making the UK Government a global exemplar in its use of the new technologies. As well as implementing and reviewing the e-Government strategy, this involves:

monitoring the Governmentís targets for electronic service availability, take-up and quality.
overseeing central IT projects, like the UK online portal and the government gateway.
reviewing the effectiveness of significant public sector IT projects and learning from them.

There is a Cabinet Office Minister responsible for Information Age Government.

ii. the e-Communications team is responsible for the strategy, branding and marketing of the Government's online presence.

iii. the e-Commerce team is tasked with enabling e-commerce for the UK as a whole by:

developing an e-commerce friendly national and international legal, regulatory and fiscal market framework;
developing a confident and skilled population by helping individuals and businesses get the skills and access to the technologies they need; and
analysing and benchmarking e-commerce activity to inform government and business.


The e-Envoy, a Cabinet Office official, works with the e-Minister, who is in DTI, to do this. Together they prepare monthly reports for the Prime Minister which monitor progress against the Government's commitments to improving the e-commerce environment.

Contacting the Office of the e-Envoy:

tel: 020 7270 1200/7238 2015




Regulatory Impact Unit

The Regulatory Impact Unitís (RIU) remit is to improve the process of government regulation and involves analysing regulations. Its role is two-fold.

First, it keeps in regular contact with departments, providing advice on, and scrutiny of, all new regulations that impose a significant cost or cost saving to business, charities and voluntary organisations. A particular emphasis is placed on the "burden of regulation", with departments being asked to look at the cost of regulations on businesses, charities and voluntary organisations; and to carry out a small business litmus test to ensure that regulations do not impact disproportionately on small businesses. The RIU is also responsible for ensuring that departments consider the wider implications of their policies.

Second, the RIU is responsible for looking ahead at all the regulations, including those arising from proposals made by the European Union, expected over the next three years. The aim of this is to enable Ministers to highlight any problems associated with the introduction of new regulations and to check that the regulations are consistent and do not involve unnecessary duplication.

The RIU gets advice from the Better Regulation Task Force, a group drawn from Business, charities and citizens' groups.

Contacting the RIU

tel: 020 7276 2193



Cross-cutting Issues

Performance and Innovation Unit

The Performance and Innovation Unit was created in 1998. Its aim is to improve the capacity of Government to address strategic, cross-cutting issues and promote innovation in the development of policy and in the delivery of the Governmentís objectives.

The Unit reports directly to the Prime Minister through the Secretary of the Cabinet and acts as a resource for the whole of Government, tackling issues on a project basis, and focusing on long-term issues that cross public sector institutional boundaries.

The Unit works in small teams, assembled from both inside and outside Government, to bring new thinking and a wide range of experience to the issues. Completed projects to date include:

Encryption and Law Enforcement - looked at the issues surrounding encryption, e-commerce and law enforcement; - identified those factors which would enable the UK to become the best environment in the world for e-commerce;

Rural Economies - examined the differing needs of local rural economies and key factors affecting their performance, so as to establish clear objectives for Government policies;

Wiring it Up - examined how current accountability and incentive arrangements within Government can be reformed to help deliver joined-up policy making and delivery;

Adding it Up - reviewed Governmentís capabilities for quantitative analysis and modelling in key policy areas;

Reaching Out - looked at the arrangements needed to deliver joined-up Government policies at a regional and local level;

Winning the Generation Game - analysed what action Government should take to counter the increasing numbers of over-50s who are no longer actively engaged in work or wider community activities;

Recovering the Proceeds of Crime - analysed the role that the pursuit and recovery of criminal assets can play in the Governmentís efforts to fight crime;

Counter Revolution - identified a strategic framework for the modernisation of the Post Office network;

Adoption - a consultative report on the adoption of children from local authority care as part of the Prime Ministerís review.

The Unitís current work programme includes:

identification of the strategic priorities for the electronic delivery of government services
examination of the interaction between trade policy and social, health and environmental policies at the international level
an analysis of leadership in the public sector and what can be done to help the recruitment and development of future and current leaders
an examination of the broad range of issues involved in privacy and datasharing


Contacting the PIU

tel: 020 7276 1452



Social Exclusion Unit

The Social Exclusion Unit was set up by the Prime Minister in December 1997. Its remit is to help improve Government action to reduce social exclusion, by producing joined up solutions to joined up problems. Most of its work is based on specific projects, which the Prime Minister chooses following consultation with other Ministers and suggestions from interested groups.

The Unit is staffed by civil servants and external secondees. They come from a number of Government departments and from organisations with experience of tackling social exclusion - the probation service, housing, police, local authorities, the voluntary sector and business.

Within Whitehall, the Unit works very closely with Departmental officials, Ministers and the No 10 Policy Unit. Policy decisions in the Unitís reports are cleared through the appropriate committees, and implemented by Departments. Any policy changes proposed have clear follow up action, targets and evaluation plans. The Unit reports directly to the Prime Minister.

The Unitís remit covers only England, but it keeps in close touch with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland devolved administrations, which are represented on the Unitís Ministerial Network. They have their own strategies for tackling social exclusion.

During its first two years, the SEU reported on:

Truancy and School Exclusion
Rough Sleeping
Neighbourhood renewal
Teenage Pregnancy
Bridging the Gap: New Opportunities for 16-18 Year Olds not in Education, Employment or Training

This year, the unit's priorities include:

developing the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal;
working with the Treasury and other Government departments to ensure that the 2000 Spending Review reflects the priority the Government gives to tackling poverty and social exclusion;
bolstering the arrangements for monitoring implementation of past reports; and
scoping of possible topics for a future work programme.


Contacting the Social Exclusion Unit

tel: 020 7276 2066



Womenís Unit

The Womenís Unit aims to add value, from a womanís perspective, to what the Government is already doing. It also seeks to develop policies and proposals on specific initiatives which are important to women, but by their nature are cross-cutting and unlikely to be a priority for any individual department. The Womenís Unit is a small, flexible unit, which supports the Minister for Women in the Cabinet Office and the Ministers responsible for womenís issues in each of the other departments. But it is not a Department for Women and has no executive or implementation functions. The goal of the Womenís Unit is that the Government should understand the needs, priorities and circumstances of women; and take these into account as it prioritises and develops its policies and services.

The resulting policies and services should be fair and equitable. They should demonstrate that the Government values women, facilitates real choice in their lives and maximises womenís opportunity to achieve their full potential. In 1999 the Unit carried out the biggest ever consultation with women - Listening to Women - which resulted in a thorough and comprehensive audit of what matters to women in the UK. The findings of this, published in Voices, form the basis of the Womenís Unit agenda.

Contacting the Womenís Unit

tel: 020 7273 8847



UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordination Unit

The Governmentís 10-year strategy for tackling drug misuse was launched in April 1998 and is co-ordinated by the Minister for the Cabinet Office. It is delivered mainly by other Government Departments including the Home Office, Department of Health, Department for Education and Employment and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


The over-arching aims of the strategy are to:

help young people resist drug misuse in order to reach their full potential in society;
protect communities from drug related anti-social behaviour;
enable people to receive treatment for drugs problems and live healthy and crime-free lives; and
stifle the availability of drugs on UK streets.

The UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordination Unit supports and brings together the Government Departments and other groups involved in tackling drug misuse. It also monitors work at national and local level implementing the Anti-Drugs Co-ordinatorís First Annual Report and National Plan, and reports back to Ministers on progress on the strategy.

The Unit provides well-informed briefing to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Minister of State, UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator and Deputy, for their engagements and visits around the country and overseas.

Contacting UKADCU

tel: 020 7276 2423



Regional Co-ordination Unit

The Regional Coordination Unit was set up in April 2000 in response to the recommendations in the PIU report Reaching Out Ė the role of central Government at regional and local level. The PIU report concluded that the Government Offices in the Regions needed to cover a wider range of Government policies affecting the regions and local areas, and that there should be strengthened Ministerial and Whitehall co-ordination of policy initiatives with regional or local impacts.

The main functions of the Unit are to:

co-ordinate the delivery of central Governmentís initiatives in the regions including local those affecting local areas;
secure more integrated initiatives on the ground;
promote the use of Government Offices by Whitehall departments;
encourage better working between the Government Offices and other regional and local partners; and
act as a corporate headquarters for Government Offices.

The Regional Co-ordination Unit is an interdepartmental unit based at DETR. The Minister of State in the Cabinet Office has day to day responsibility for the Unit, reporting to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Contacting the Regional Coordination Unit

tel: 020 7944 5854


Civil Service Management

Centre for Management and Policy Studies

The Centre for Management and Policy Studies (CMPS) was established within the Cabinet Office in June 1999 and incorporates the Civil Service College. Working with partners throughout the Civil Service, the wider public sector, the private sector and academia, the CMPS aims to:

ensure that the Civil Service is cultivating the right skills, culture and approaches to perform its tasks;
ensure that policy makers across government have access to the best research, evidence and international experience; and
help government to learn better from existing policies.


CMPS has produced a programme of development and training support for Ministers, including joint seminars with officials and others on aspects of policy and policy-making. It has also developed innovative departmental peer reviews. CMPS is building up a Resource Centre to support the policy community. This will provide advice and carry out liaison with researchers in the UK and overseas. It will facilitate access to research data and pilot electronic Knowledge Pools dealing with specific policy areas. These will be the first stages of the development of a Knowledge Management vision for the Civil Service.

Contacting the CMPS

tel: 020 7276 1313



Civil Service Corporate Management Command

Civil Service Corporate Management command (CSCM) is made up of around 200 people organised into two directorates - Performance Management Directorate and Recruitment and Development Directorate. Its aims are to:

support the head of the Home Civil Service and the Civil Service Management Board in driving forward the Civil Service Reform programme;
support departmentsí and agenciesí implementation of this programme of reform and provide management services and co-ordination at a corporate level;
communicate best personnel management practice - encouraging departments and agencies to learn from each other and to benchmark themselves against the best; and
provide a single voice for the Service on personnel management issues.

The main focus of CSCM work over the next three to five years will be to co-ordinate and drive forward the Civil Service Reform programme. The Civil Service Reform Report was published on 15 December 1999. The programme is based on six key themes:

Stronger leadership with a clear sense of purpose;
Better business planning;
Sharper performance management;
A dramatic improvement in diversity;
A more open service which brings on talent; and
A better deal for staff.

More details from the report can be seen in Part III of this guide.

Taking forward the Civil Service Reform programme complements the overall Modernising Government agenda and CSCM works closely with colleagues in the Modernising Government Secretariat (see the previous section).

Although the Reform programme is a key priority, there is a continuing role in providing corporate services to departments and agencies and a corporate voice on behalf of the Service as a whole. These roles include: Civil Service statistics; Fast Stream recruitment; Civil Service pensions; Employment Conditions; Pay and Contracts for Senior Civil Servants; Succession Planning; and Job Evaluation techniques.

Contacting CSCM

tel: 020 7276 2235


Civil Service pensions website


Government Information and Communications Service (GICS)

The GICS Secretariat is the office of the Head of the GICS. He provides central advice on propriety and professional practice and senior communication appointments; is responsible for GICS standards across Whitehall and its agencies; and for co-ordinating the presentation of major cross-Government issues and emergencies.

Three units support these tasks. The GICS Development Centre manages staff recruitment and career development through professional assessment centres, and drives best practice through training and reviews. The central Media Monitoring Unit keeps government press offices informed of news developments 24 hours a day. The News Co-ordination Centre is a central facility set up and staffed by GICS members when needed to handle major crosscutting issues and emergencies. It collates briefing, co-ordinates Ministerial interviews and visits, and provides a central press office.Contacting GICS:

Secretariat 020 7270 6632

Development Centre 020 7276 2709

Media Monitoring Unit 020 7270 1080


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