25 January, 2024
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Catherine Hutchinson, Head of the Evaluation Task Force, Cabinet Office

Delivering what works: building a Whitehall that learns

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.

A high-performing Whitehall is not only one which is equipped to deliver, but one which is equipped to deliver the outcomes that citizens themselves are seeking. That means matching operational brilliance with mechanisms to understand if policy aims are actually being met. It means evaluating impact and acting on those insights responsively as new information emerges.  

Departmental implementation and delivery units are a key part of the solution, with the Evaluation Task Force playing a critical role, but more must be done to embed a learning mentality across Whitehall. Establishing clear metrics to judge the success of any programme, collecting key data against those metrics, and ensuring that the findings inform decision-making at the highest level is essential. It also means establishing clear feedback loops between central government policymakers and those actually delivering the policies, such as local government, NHS Trusts or schools.

Reform is delighted to host Catherine Hutchinson, Head of the Evaluation Task Force, Cabinet Office, to identify the skills, processes and structures needed to ensure that the Government’s priorities are being met, in partnership with all those involved in delivering them. 

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

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