We help our members develop their skills and experience.  We support government skills programmes, provide discounted career development programmes and have launched our own skills programme, FDA Learn. 

Our work

How do we promote and protect the interests of senior public servants and professionals?

We work closely with employers on the issues that matter - pay, promotion, skills, and fairness at work.

We also seek to influence public sector policy - punching above our weight with the media, think tanks, MPs and other trade unions. Our aim is to help make public services, and the people who deliver them,  the best that they can be.

We advocate:

  • Efficient, quality public services
  • Partnership and engagement
  • Professionalism and skills
  • Equality and diversity
  • Work/life balance
  • Accountability in public service
  • Civil service ethics and governance
  • Fair pay and reward
  • An effective Senior Civil Service
  • Quality pensions for all.

Efficient, quality public services

We believe in efficient public services - our tenet since we were established a century ago.

We know that public services, and the people who deliver them, must serve all the citizens of the UK and provide the tax payer with good value for money.

To do this efficiently, they need proper investment - in people, systems and infrastructure. They also need effective leadership, and a clear vision of the direction of travel.

However, some governments have not always made these a priority.

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Partnership and engagement

We work in partnership with employers and members to improve workplaces and working lives. We believe in engaging with employers - not working against them. 

We facilitate working relationships - often serving as a mediator between staff and their managers - and help to implement change, explain new policies, and identify and address concerns before they become real problems.

We think solutions are best reached through dialogue and clear consideration of the issues rather than tactical posturing. 

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Professionalism and skills

We promote the professionalism of senior public servants, and the specialist skills they hone in Government. 

We help our members develop their skills and experience.  We support government skills programmes, provide discounted career development programmes and have launched our own skills programme, FDA Learn. 

FDA Learn was devised to help members get the most from the Professional Skills for Government programme and take control of their careers.

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Equality and diversity

We are committed to the promotion of equality for all and actively oppose all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.

We have an equality officer who co-ordinates networks for women, black and minority ethnic (BME) members, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) members and disabled members.  The FDA is represented on a range of TUC equality committees and we comment frequently on equality issues in the public sector. 

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Work/life balance

At least one in five FDA members is working more than 11 hours in unpaid overtime each week.

A culture of 'presenteeism' is endemic in the civil service, which does not increase productivity. Rather, it is a barrier for all those seeking promotion to the senior ranks and undermines the quality of life for all of our members (particularly those with caring responsibilities).  Overwork in many areas has led to poor health and suffering families. These are just some of the findings of our research on members' work/life balance.

We are pressing the Cabinet Office, departments and ministers to call time on the long-hours culture and foster a climate of smarter and more flexible working. We believe this will lead to higher productivity, a more diverse civil service and better working lives.

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Accountability in public service

We believe that civil servants are accountable for their direct actions, and ministers are accountable to Parliament and the public for the work of their departments.  This is how the lines are drawn within the constitution and in the Civil Service Code. 

But in recent years there have been pressures to extend the accountability of civil servants to Parliament and the media.  So where should accountability for civil servants begin and that for ministers end?

We welcome debate about whether the interface between civil servant and minister - a boundary that is as complex and nuanced as it is variable by relationship - can be clarified.  

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Civil service ethics and governance

We are a vocal advocate for strong ethics and governance in the civil service and wider public sector, and have a track record of success in influencing standards. 

The FDA successfully campaigned for the introduction of the original Civil Service Code - which sets out the ethics and behaviour expected of civil servants -  and participated in its recent modernisation.

The FDA has also long campaigned for a 'Civil Service Act' along with the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) and the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL).  In April 2010 the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act received Royal Assent, which enshrines the civil service values of independence and impartiality in law, and places oversight of the governance of the civil service under Parliament, rather than the elected Government.

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Pay and reward

We strive to secure fair pay and reward for our members - be they management trainees or permanent secretaries, middle managers or lawyers. 

We also influence pay for the Senior Civil Service through our yearly evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB).

Securing better pay for civil servants is not always the easiest, or most popular, of jobs, but it is essential: public services (and the people who deliver them) need investment to perform well. 


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Senior Civil Service

We represent many members of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) - those who occupy senior posts in the civil service from assistant director to permanent secretary level. We work closely with the Cabinet Office and the Senior Salaries Review Body to advance the interests of the SCS on pay, promotions and performance management systems.

We seek to:

  • Promote the SCS - particularly the importance of their roles at the top of government and their professionalism and skills
  • Ensure fair and transparent pay and performance management arrangements are in place
  • Monitor whether promotions are fair and based on merit
  • Advocate and facilitate proper skills development

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