Understanding Government - About & Contact

Working in government can be great fun and very rewarding. It is good to work to improve the lives of fellow citizens, you get to influence important decisions, and you get to meet some fascinating people, a good number of them as colleagues. But new arrivals discover that they are subject to a bewildering mixture of rules, procedures and guidance. And those who have never worked in government find it difficult to understand what is going on.

I have therefore compiled three websites:

  • Understanding the Civil Service provides information about, and examines the skills and effectiveness of, the UK Civil Service*.
  • Understanding Regulation aims to provide a similar authoritative but accessible introduction to the activities of UK regulators.
  • Understanding Policy Making examines the skills needed to give effective policy advice and to manage policy teams - and to 'speak truth to power' - whether in government or the private sector.

All three sites aim to avoid technicality, whilst offering broadly accurate information and a balanced range of views. Please do email me (see below) if you have any suggestions for ways in which the site might be improved, or if you would like to draw attention to any views or interesting material which might be included.

I am a former Senior Civil Servant and Chief Executive of the Better Regulation Executive, the postal industry regulator Postcomm, and the Competition Commission. My CV is here and my contact details are:- 68rtsw8@gmail.com and 07866 522 338 (+44 7866 522 338 from outside the UK).

Academic Citation: Most of the comment in this website draw on, and link to, documents in the three online libraries which should be referenced where possible. Otherwise, I understand that most examiners, tutors, referees etc. will accept citations which include a full URL together with the date that the page was accessed.

Please feel free to use and share material from this website under the terms of the appropriate Creative Commons Licence. But please also take every opportunity to tell others where you found the material so that they too can explore these sites.

Please follow the @ukcivilservant Twitter feed if you would like to know when new material is added to either site.

My occasional blog is here.

My LinkedIn profile is here.


Martin Stanley


* A note from Martin about the Civil Servant website:-

'I aim to provide accurate information and helpful commentary. I believe that most civil servants - and most experienced Ministers - would agree with most of what I have written, but I am equally sure that none would agree with every word. Please therefore do not hesitate to contact me if you spot inaccurate or out-of-date information, or strongly disagree with the views expressed in any of the commentaries.

I should also stress that the advice in this website does not directly deal with the challenges facing the vast majority of civil servants who do not work in central departments, but carry out vital work in Executive Agencies and local offices. It also does not deal with the special circumstances of those working in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. I apologise to such colleagues, but I hope that they, too, will find the advice and information interesting, if only because it will tell them something about the working methods of those whose decisions have such a large influence on their working lives.'



Spotted something wrong?
Please do drop me an email if you spot anything that is out-of-date, or any other errors, typos or faulty links.