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Sharing our knowledge

Have you ever done some work or spent time trying to fix a problem, only to find later that someone else already had a solution? Or spoken to someone about something you thought they wouldn’t know about, but happened to have some advice or a useful contact to help you?

The Government Statistical Service (GSS) includes all 25 ministerial departments, 3 devolved administrations, 20 non-ministerial departments and hundreds of agencies and other public bodies who produce statistics.  This means there is a lot of cross over in the work we do, however we don’t necessarily have the facilities set up to share knowledge between departments.

As a GSS facing division, the Best Practice and Impact (BPI) division decided to try and facilitate sharing through a series of sharing seminars. These seminars would last 1.5 hours and invite three speakers from the GSS to present on a particular topic. As it is not practical for all GSS departments to travel to one location, we decided to trial a webinar format, so people could join the session from anywhere.

What is the aim? Who can join?

The aim is to facilitate a culture shift away from siloed working and towards shared innovation, problem solving and peer learning.

The sharing seminars are open to anyone working on the civil service sector and in the production of statistics.

How can you attend?

The webinars will be broadcast live and available via BPI’s youtube channel. Following the webinar, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and find out more via the sharing seminar slack channel. After the seminar all materials will be shared on the sharing seminar page on the GSS website, including code where appropriate, and BPI will facilitate follow up actions where there is an appetite.

The next seminar will be on Monte Carlo Simulation. Updates on date, presenters and registration will follow up soon.

Our first sharing seminars

The first seminar was on address matching. Presenters from Valuation Office Agency (VOA), Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) were excellent and there was a lot of engagement on sli.do during the event. However, there were some teething problems on the technical side of things and not all GSS colleagues were able to access the webinar or see the content being presented. We put out a feedback form to get a better understanding of the issues, so we could work on them for next time.

Thanks to our colleagues in BPI, for the second seminar on Power BI we set up a YouTube channel on an off-network laptop, as this was more accessible option across government. There were presentations from Companies House and MHCLG. Although we still have improvements to make to the service, the feedback was generally positive, and we had 100 people dial in to the session (up from 30 in the first one).

What was the impact?

These seminars have been successful in promoting the good work happening across the GSS and helping colleagues with challenges they faced in their work, with the slack channels enabling the conversations to continue even after the seminar has finished. An example of this impact can be seen on the following feedback received from a colleague working in VOA.

Off the back of the address matching seminar I’ve had several departments get in touch with me to further discuss methodologies. In particular, the method presented by MHCLG when applied to VOA data I think is going to drive a massive improvement in our process. So, thanks for setting it up and for the invitation, I look forward to the others in the future!

Contact us

If you would like to contribute to future seminars – including presenting or suggesting any topics you think would be useful to discuss across government, then please contact us at gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk .

Keep an eye on the sharing seminar page on the GSS website or on the GSS newsletter for more information on how you can sign up.

Nicki Verdeli
Holly Butcher
Nicki works in the Quality Centre, part of the Best Practice & Impact Division.