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MPs urge civil servants to make crucial Civil Service People Survey data equally available to all

24 October 2023

In a new report, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is urging officials in the Cabinet Office to ensure that the data collected in the Civil Service People Survey – one of the largest public sector workforce surveys – are made equally and promptly available to all, following concerns raised about the quality and timeliness of the release of survey data in recent years.    

Collecting views from hundreds of thousands of officials each year, the People Survey provides an annual snapshot of civil servants’ satisfaction across a range of areas, including their views on leadership, and pay and benefits.  

The Committee questions the current practice of publishing survey data externally months after it is circulated internally, as well as the practice of coinciding external disclosure with the quarterly so-called ‘transparency’ days, on which large quantities of other important governmental information are also put into the public sphere.   

MPs also draw attention to the fact that data are now distributed for public consumption without the benefit of accompanying commentary, and in a format which can make secondary analysis challenging. MPs recommend that initial results from the People Survey should be published at the time they are made available to participants, and before the end of the calendar year to which results refer, in order to increase transparency. They also recommend that the People Survey be published as an ‘official statistic’, complying fully with the statutory Code of Practice for Statistics.  

MPs note that few civil servants believe effective action is taken in response to People Survey results and suggest that how departments respond to the data are better coordinated by the Cabinet Office to maximise the survey’s scope and potential for impact in addressing issues raised in responses.   

Chair's comment

Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Chair, William Wragg MP, said:   

“The Civil Service People Survey is an important tool in capturing the views of hundreds of thousands of civil servants across the UK and offers rich insights into their experiences and performance, and of morale in the very heart of government. 

“Our Committee’s report makes a number of suggestions to ensure that users of the survey data all have equal access to important information about our civil service in a timely fashion, and to ensure that civil servants across the UK feel their voices are being heard and action is being taken in response by their leadership. 

“Our recommendations seek to ensure that these important results are put to good use by officials in driving transparency and efficiency improvements within government.”  

Further information

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