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Investigating the responsiveness of the civil service

The world has changed dramatically. In order to face these emerging challenges, in every country the Civil Service must rapidly respond.

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In the past few years we’ve seen civil service departments and teams demonstrate their ability to respond to significant changes quickly and imaginatively, be it shifting citizen demands, national and international political shifts, and wider societal and technological disruption.

Where once it was claimed that change would take too long, the COVID-19 pandemic mobilised action and reinvigorated the public sector with a vital and renewed sense of purpose. Having witnessed what the public sector is capable of, we wanted to explore how well equipped the civil service is to seize this renewed imperative to maintain the posture and pace of delivery.

In partnership with Global Government Forum, we spoke with 867 civil servants across nine countries to explore their perceived adaptability and identify best practice. Our research sets the baseline for how the civil service is positioned to adapt in a world where the most responsive governments will be best positioned to succeed.


countries surveyed: UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia.


of respondents agreed that their organisation excels at learning and responding rapidly to meet evolving citizen and end-user needs.


of UK civil servants agreed they have the ability to hire new talent to support change.

Related insights

Investigating the responsiveness and agility of the civil service in nine countries

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A renewed public sector imperative

Our present moment offers an opportunity for the public sector to become more purpose-led, adaptive and collaborative, and enact long-lasting benefit to government, business and society.

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Contact us

Peter Lovell

PA defence and security expert

Grete Kvernland-Berg

Country head and government expert

Richard Hughes

PA government and public sector expert

Elaine Whyte

PA defence and security expert