Is the Civil Service that bad?

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
I have a conditional offer for a job in the Civil Service. It seems a good job to me on paper, with plenty of scope to pursue what interests me (wishful thinking). I was very surprised how accommodating they seemed at the welcome meeting, as I've never worked in any similar role or industry even. After I get the qualifications tied to the role, it should open up doors which I'd like to investigate. If it's disappointing I should be able to leave after a few years for the private sector.
There seems to be a lot of experience with the Civil Service on this site and very little said is positive. Is it that bad? I don't know anyone in so if anyone has any serious advice etc, I'd be keen to hear.
Probably a bit late, but in case anyone else has the same question:

There isn't really such a coherent thing as "the Civil Service", although obviously on paper it is a coherent category of job so far as HMRC are concerned. Being a provincial secretary =/= a Porton Down scientist =/= a Whitehall mandarin =/= an SIS case officer. Even within Whitehall, some departments are more interchangeable and others (e.g. Foreign Office) have a more unique and bespoke path. Obviously there are some common features (standardised pay grades) but you should be well aware of those, so that shouldn't count as good or bad: it's the price you compare with good or bad, to work out whether the whole package is worthwhile.

Moreover, there isn't really such a coherent thing as a civil servant (or applicant) so what seems awful to some will clearly seem better to others. Either you know whether that applies to you, or if you are young, you have yet to find out and doing it over here is probably equivalent to doing it over there, all other things being equal.

As you say, it isn't a prison sentence or life contract, so really the question is will this job suit you, and nobody on here is going to give you a better answer to that, than you can to yourself.
 
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Moreover, it created a culture of what was in effect a Ponzi scheme where they were funding winning contracts at near zero margins, funding the period before break even from the previous contract they won and building a huge portfolio of non-profitable contracts. Carillon is the worst example.

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The Carillion Amey NGEC contract was also a victim of their bidding success. (Noted - not a PFI)

These were a range of distinct regional contracts and they bit off more than they could chew by bidding low on every region. They didn’t have a cunning plan on how to run them more efficiently in one big piece, but were just a lot of contracts with low margins

As a parent company carillion couldn’t the hand to mouth nature of low value works, add to that the issue of below and above threshold works, with certain works to be funded by CarillonAmey within their standard contract monthly payment and other works to be authorised and paid for by DIO/MoD on top
Carillion could not sustain it and headed to their downfall, however Amey were able to remain and continue the consortiums obligations
 
Thought I'd share some of my comments for anyone interested. I've been in the role for coming up 6 months now. It's so different to the industry I'd spent my career up to this in.

1. Far too many meetings. They serve no purpose mostly and there are people who spend most of their day in them. I'm encouraged to join meetings with nothing to do with me because "you will see how other people do things".
2. Too much management by consensus, especially on irrelevant issues. I must have had about 4hrs worth of meetings now about a new teams name. There is no pleasing everyone and a senior manager should have just chosen something appropriate.
3. So much bureaucracy. Changing the most small detail on a site requires about 5 hours worth of meetings.
4. Pointless unquantifiable jobs. Theres so many people in roles to do with "culture & engagement" and other ridiculous things. There's no way of knowing if these people do a good job and if the role itself is necessary or VFM.
5. Aversion to technical skills. My intake was brought in because they can't retain or recruit people with the skills needed. Im not surprised. My idea of technical work/training and others, are hugely misaligned.
6. Ridiculous in person meetings bringing people in from across the country. Must cost a fortune in travel expenses for no benefit. As a tax payer it infuriates me.

That being said im enjoying it and there are people to learn from. I am getting a degree paid for with time to do it so I cant complain. I don't know whether it will wear thin over time. It seems a lot of my intake plan to go after the 30k+ pay rise in the private sector after graduation. At the moment I don't have a plan to do the same. Im hoping i could go into one of the interesting roles people on here talk about. If not then its probably not a long term career for me. There's few I think are doing work interesting to me.

The back to work process is a joke. My team was national (with 1 in Northern Ireland) before covid apparently. The people who go into the office can't get a desk and sit doing meetings over teams alone as if they were at home, so it's absolutely pointless. The patronising "some of our best collaborations are in the elevator" is annoying. I honestly can't see a benefit for any of our team. I can speak to anyone in 30s. Our team has objective quantifiable metrics we can be judged on, both individually and as a team so I don't think anyone really takes the urine.

Overall I can definitely see people's problems with the CS and public sector in general. A lot of the stereotypes are fitting. But to tar everyone with the same brush would be wrong. There are some brilliant hardworking people who provide a lot more value than they are recognised/paid for.
 
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D

Deleted 186086

Guest
7% increase in MoD since 2016, but 20-40% will be made redundant.

So jobs will be gapped, those that stay might get expected to do 2 jobs for same money.
Not exactly going to lift morale and will probably end up with troops having to fill ex civil servant roles.
Mostly on a temp basis if CO's can swing it?

Normally Labour expand the civil service & the Tories cut jobs.
But pre Brexit the Tories were advertising for anyone to join to help sort the mess out?
 
But pre Brexit the Tories were advertising for anyone to join to help sort the mess out?
Correct, new roles were created due to Brexit for two general reasons:
1) to go through the process of making Brexit happen, checking all UK legislation, standards etc were place etc (these have a finite life and the jobs disappear - the people may have fixed term contracts that end, or may have transferred over from other civil service departments and have to go back or find another role)
2) roles now required for the UK to operate outside of the EU - these continue to be needed and are a net increase due to Brexit
 

green_slime

War Hero
7% increase in MoD since 2016, but 20-40% will be made redundant.

So jobs will be gapped, those that stay might get expected to do 2 jobs for same money.
Not exactly going to lift morale and will probably end up with troops having to fill ex civil servant roles.
Mostly on a temp basis if CO's can swing it?

Normally Labour expand the civil service & the Tories cut jobs.
But pre Brexit the Tories were advertising for anyone to join to help sort the mess out?
that is not an accurate representation. All departments have been directed to show how 20-40% reductions could be made. This is not to say that the options will be palatable or taken. Some departments are likely to be cut more deeply than others. Given the global dynamics and the internal move to move uniformed posts to CS to release capacity to front-line deployable roles, I think the MOD will see 0-5% reduction overall with a stretch to 10. DE&S, SDA and DIO are most at risk of reduction.
 
The Carillion Amey NGEC contract was also a victim of their bidding success. (Noted - not a PFI)

These were a range of distinct regional contracts and they bit off more than they could chew by bidding low on every region. They didn’t have a cunning plan on how to run them more efficiently in one big piece, but were just a lot of contracts with low margins

As a parent company carillion couldn’t the hand to mouth nature of low value works, add to that the issue of below and above threshold works, with certain works to be funded by CarillonAmey within their standard contract monthly payment and other works to be authorised and paid for by DIO/MoD on top
Carillion could not sustain it and headed to their downfall, however Amey were able to remain and continue the consortiums obligations
Its safe to say that Carillion were trading at or close to insolvency for ten years or more; maybe it was their business model. What they were actually doing was funding the pre-break even stage of every under-bid new contract using revenues, not profit, from existing contract. Thus they were under-servicing (eg) a defence contract in order to fulfil obligations on an (eg) NHS contract.

Anyone who bid and lost regular against Carillion could see what was happening; the fact that the wider public sector procurement staff couldn't is rather damning. There really has to be. abetter way of assessing value.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
IMHO the core issue was the culture of accepting the lowest compliant bid and the lack of proper investigation of bidders treasury capacity. I don’t think it was corrupt, but it was criminally negligent.

Moreover, it created a culture of what was in effect a Ponzi scheme where they were funding winning contracts at near zero margins, funding the period before break even from the previous contract they won and building a huge portfolio of non-profitable contracts. Carillon is the worst example.

IMHO the separation of the commercial function from the delivery function across the public sector is very damaging. Yes, segregating duties eliminates fraud risk but it also imports risk into programs. That risk is massively increased in a long contract like a PFI.
Criminally negligent on the part of Brown and his cronies. Plain criminal on the part of the providers concerned. They knew they were dealing with a total incompetent. As I said it is the same as ripping off a granny with dementia.
 
that is not an accurate representation. All departments have been directed to show how 20-40% reductions could be made. This is not to say that the options will be palatable or taken. Some departments are likely to be cut more deeply than others. Given the global dynamics and the internal move to move uniformed posts to CS to release capacity to front-line deployable roles, I think the MOD will see 0-5% reduction overall with a stretch to 10. DE&S, SDA and DIO are most at risk of reduction.
Up to four weeks ago, we were being offered “promotion” if we were to take CS jobs and have instant access to pension etc.

Those offers seem to have dried up somewhat…
 
Is karma coming back onto politicians who use the Civil Service as scapegoats?

Boris denys any knowledge of any past allegations about Chris Pincher, until former senior civil servant points out that Boris had been personably briefed, then Boris remembers.


The government have been laying blame on the Civil Service and people don’t like it



 
Jacob Rees Mogg this weekend decided to go public and supposedly call out the Cabinet Office for ‘woke’ training courses such as “Check yo privilege” and claiming that the pesky Civil Service must stop these wokisms and only do role based training.

If we disregard ‘leaks’ by politicians, it is either:

1) The cabinet office are running courses contradictory to government / civil service / cabinet office policy
(And as a government minister for the cabinet office he bears responsibility)

Or

2) It’s a Diversity and Inclusion course with a ‘trendy’ name
(Which under both government / civil service / cabinet office policy is mandated training, and is also a legal requirement. So he knows nothing about policy and the law, and if he doesn’t like the law then as a Member of Parliament can propose changes to legislation


Unless of course it’s his usual soundbite bollocks about those pesky Civil Servants
 
Looks like they had plenty of time on their hands today.
Civil service live this am.
IMG-20220705-WA0001.jpg
 
Is karma coming back onto politicians who use the Civil Service as scapegoats?

Boris denys any knowledge of any past allegations about Chris Pincher, until former senior civil servant points out that Boris had been personably briefed, then Boris remembers.


The government have been laying blame on the Civil Service and people don’t like it



It would be nice to know who this former senior civil servant is.

It would be especially nice to know if aforementioned senior civil servant was one of those who actively tried to derail brexit.

With the current flurry of anti brexit and anti Boris news stories on the rise, I suspect we’ll see pans to draw the U.K. back into the customs Union in the not too distant future.
 
It would be nice to know who this former senior civil servant is.
….that would be ‘ former top civil servant at the Foreign Office, Lord McDonald’ as detailed in the links I provided



It would be especially nice to know if aforementioned senior civil servant was one of those who actively tried to derail brexit.
I wouldn’t know his position on Brexit

With the current flurry of anti brexit and anti Boris news stories on the rise, I suspect we’ll see pans to draw the U.K. back into the customs Union in the not too distant future.
 
Looks like they had plenty of time on their hands today.
Civil service live this am.View attachment 675376

(By the way - 15:00 is PM not AM)


Nice of someone to highlight and publish that whilst failing to mention that it’s by the security profession on methods used by hostile actors


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This session is relevant for civil servants at all grades interested in joining the Security Profession or who would like to learn more about security priorities and initiatives.
 

GDog

War Hero
….that would be ‘ former top civil servant at the Foreign Office, Lord McDonald’ as detailed in the links I provided




I wouldn’t know his position on Brexit
I've read elsewhere McDonald was eased out of a job in the DFID merger with FCO.

Allegedly BJ thought he was briefing/leaking against him at the time so it was a convenient time to do so. I do recall him pissing off a lot of FCO staff as Foreign Sec and it wasn't entirely to do with Brexit:

The thing is, it isn't hard to discredit BJ because he's been shown to be so full of shit already. McDonald still has credibility, whereas BJ squandered his.

Sometimes all you have to do to get revenge is tell the truth.
 
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