Improving GCS

In 2013, a change programme was launched that established the Government Communications Service (GCS) as the professional body for all government communicators working in UK government departments, agencies and arms length bodies.

About the GCS Improvement Programme

The four completed phases of the GCS Improvement Programme to date, have succeeded in building and delivering an impressive canon of professional practice which has enhanced the reputation of Communications in the Functional Leadership context across government, and the communications industry both in the UK and internationally.

In November 2017, GCS launched Phase Five of the GCS Improvement Programme which consists of six project strands:

  • Strategic Purpose of Government Communications;
  • Business Partnering;
  • Strategic Engagement;
  • Emergency Planning Communication;
  • Another project will build on existing platforms in order to drive Professional Excellence (building on existing platforms); and
  • The Engage programme.

About previous GCS Improvement Programme Phases One, Two, Three and Four

Phase One and  Two of the programme saw the implementation of over 100 improvement actions, including improved evaluation, cost-effective communications, and enhanced internal engagement.

Phase Three (September 2015 – August 2016) drew upon the success of the first two phases to bring together a programme of five projects:

  • Internal Change and Engagement – to raise the overall standard of internal communications across government (including ALBs) and helping to improve staff engagement;
  • Professional and Personal Capabilities – building a capable workforce through recruitment, talent management, employee engagement, and learning and development. The focus is on leadership and the launch of the GCS Diversity and Inclusion strategy  ensuring GCS becomes more a profession that is more representative of the public it serves;
  • Structures – to create a more unified profession through the ‘single service’ Modern Communications Operating Model (MCOM) and governance;
  • Clear professional standards – now included in the GCS Handbook
  • Public Service Co-operation – through closer working between central government departments and local authorities and their related public services.

Phase four of the programme consisted of four projects:

  • Single Campaign Approachthis project formalised work to identify ways to collectively improve GCS campaign activity by a single approach to audiences, shared campaigns, more partnership work and government brands.
  • Modern Media Operationthis project led by Heads of News created a model of best practice for media relations. The GCS Modern Media Operation (MMO) Guide set out, for the first time, the skills and capabilities government media relations teams require to deal with the combined demands of the general public, ministers and stakeholders in the 24/7/365 digital age.
  • Improving Professional Capability this project built on evidence obtained through the GCS Skills Survey 2016/17 to address skills gaps across the profession.
  • The GCS Story campaign relaunched the GCS membership offer to all government departments, agencies and arms length bodies, with a new GCS Handbook for all members, a revised professional development offer and networking opportunities.

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