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Specialist skills in the civil service

Since 2013, the government’s main approach to building specialist skills has been through the functions. The functions are groups of specialist expertise that provide advice, develop professional capability, and set and assure standards across government. There are currently 14 functions which include important areas of government activity, such as commercial, digital, finance and project delivery. When we reported in 2017 on Capability in the civil service we noted that government faced increasing challenges in providing public services and needed specialist skills to support these activities.

The study will follow up on our 2017 report, which looked at where government faced capability gaps and assessed the emerging functional model as a means of developing specialist skills. It will look in particular at the number, distribution and characteristics of specialist staff across government; how the Cabinet Office has developed its oversight of functions; and progress the functions have made in developing specialist skills.