14 September, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Sapana Agrawal, Director, Modernisation & Reform, Cabinet Office

A modern machine: embedding corporate capabilities throughout Whitehall

This roundtable is part of Reform's new project with Newton Europe, 'Reimagining Whitehall: A manifesto for delivery'.

For decades, consensus has grown that the Whitehall system, despite its many strengths, needs transformative reform. To tackle current crises and prepare for future challenges, a more diverse, dynamic, and delivery-focused government machine is needed. 

As we head towards a general election, Reform, in partnership with Newton Europe, will explore the practical steps any government must take to ensure it is equipped to deliver. We will consider what structures and capabilities are needed to secure Whitehall’s position as a world-leading institution. This will include considering the skills, tools and insights needed to ensure government can turn ideas into outcomes, the corporate functions needed to execute, and the role that cognitive diversity and an innovation mindset can play in successfully addressing the huge challenges facing the nation. 

Through a five-part series of high-level events with Whitehall leaders and experts, we will identify existing best practice as well as opportunities for systemic reform. We will capture this in a collection of timely outputs, culminating in an impactful ‘Manifesto for delivery’ to inform an incoming government.  

This is the second event in our series through which we will identify existing best practice as well as opportunities for systemic reform that can secure a more diverse, dynamic, and delivery-focused government machine.

Just as vital as brilliant policy minds are digital, data, scientific, commercial, and delivery expertise, yet these have often been undervalued. Recognition of this led to the implementation of the functional model, but to get the most from its data, spending and people, Whitehall must do more to secure and build on these crucial corporate functions. lt also means deploying those capabilities to greatest effect, building teams with the flexibility and skills mix to tackle both long-standing challenges and emergent issues as they arise.

ln this roundtable, Reform will examine how the corporate capabilities within Whitehall can be further developed, the right balance between generalists, specialists and experience, and the structures needed to allocate the right resources to the right delivery challenge.

Reform are delighted to be joined by Sapana Agrawal, Director, Modernisation and Reform, Cabinet Office to lead this discussion exploring progress to date and identifying next steps to build a modern machine fit for the challenges ahead.

This is an invite-only, Chatham House roundtable supported by Newton Europe.