Government Communications Functional Standard published

Friday 9 August 2019

Government Communications Functional Standard published by GCS. The new standard underpinned by extensive GCS guidance and resources sets the expectations for the management and practice of government communications.

Alex Aiken headshot

“At the beginning of the year I set the profession three challenges raising our standards, strengthening our democracy and delivering for our communities. The Government Communication Functional Standard GovS0.11 published today provides a solid foundation for the profession and function to respond to these challenges and our vision to enable excellence across government. 

As one of 14 government functions, communications is essential to the effective operation of the Civil Service, the delivery of HM Government priorities and improved outcomes for our citizens. By all government functions working in partnership with each other, setting standards, and delivering against them we become the most trusted source of expertise and challenge for our colleagues.”

Alex Aiken, Executive Director Government Communications


Read Government Functional Standard GovS011: Communication (pdf 220 KB)

About government functions

The Government Communication Service is the professional body for all UK government communicators and leads the government communication function across government. 

The 14 Functions that operate across the Civil Service impact on every civil servant and every part of government. Each of the Functions helps to drive improved outcomes across government and for citizens.

Government Functions bring together people, process, and specialist expertise within and across government departments and arm’s length bodies. They develop trusted partnerships to support, enable and challenge departments and arm’s length bodies. This ensures the right people and skills are in the right place at the right time to deliver department outcomes

Purpose of this government standard

The purpose of this government standard is to set expectations for the management and practice of government communications in order to deliver responsive and informative public service communications that support the effective delivery of HM Government policy and priorities, and assist with the effective operation of public services.

This standard provides direction and guidance for:

  • permanent secretaries, directors general (and chief executive officers (CEO) of arm’s length bodies)
  • senior leadership and board members within organisations
  • those commissioning communications
  • communications leads within organisations
  • those involved in developing, managing and delivering communications
  • third parties engaged in government communications, including in partnership marketing. 


About government Functional Standards

Functional standards are management standards to guide people working in and with the UK government. 

They exist to create a coherent and mutually understood way of doing business across organisational boundaries, and to provide a stable basis for assurance, risk management, and capability improvement. They support value for money for the exchequer, and continuity of implementation. 

Functional standards can be confidently used as a suite (they cross refer where needed and are tailored for UK government use). They contain mandatory and advisory elements, described in consistent language. 

Functional standards should help people working at all levels in the UK government: 

  • efficient: help you to save time and money by asking the right questions and avoid reinventing the wheel 
  • effective: help you to do the right thing, right time, right way – including finding the right balance between effort and risk 
  • empowering: help professionals share learning and improve ways of working.

Functional standards are not about setting new expectations, but about bringing together and clarifying what people should already be doing. They will be built into government systems and processes, and aligned to other core government texts such as Managing Public Money. 

They clarify and build on existing accountabilities. For example the roles of Accounting Officer and Senior Responsible Owner are already clear – functional standards simply reflect this. But other essential roles are defined for the first time in each functional standard, to aid anyone involved in setting up, managing or assuring functional work.