Head of the Civil Service
The Civil Service is led by the Cabinet Secretary. The current Cabinet Secretary is Sir Gus O’Donnell.
Sir Gus is known as the head of the Home Civil Service. The Home Civil Service is made up of all HM Government organisations (except for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office). It also includes the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government.
The most senior civil servant in a department is a permanent secretary. Each supports the government minister who heads their department and who is accountable to Parliament for the department’s actions and performance.
The permanent secretary is the ‘accounting officer’ for their department, reporting to Parliament. They must make sure their department spends the money allocated to them appropriately.
The permanent secretary leading a department is also responsible to the cabinet secretary and head of the Home Civil Service for the effective day-to-day management of their department and its civil servants.
The permanent secretary of the Scottish Government is accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Likewise, the permanent secretary of the Welsh Assembly Government is accountable to the National Assembly for Wales. The permanent secretaries for both the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government contribute to the Civil Service governance along with other permanent secretaries.
Our governing bodies
Our leaders need to set a clear overall direction for the Civil Service so that all our different organisations work as a coherent and effective whole.
The head of the Civil Service is supported in this by all his permanent secretaries through the Civil Service Governance Boards. These boards consider the issues that are important to all departments and decide on the best way forward for the whole Civil Service.
The Civil Service Steering Board (CSSB) chaired by the head of the Home Civil Service is responsible for the strategic leadership of the Civil Service.
Beneath this is there are also sub-groups which develop policies and proposals on long-term issues such as leadership, employee relations and capability.
In this way all of the permanent secretaries are involved in the long-term development of the Civil Service.