In light of our discussion paper on Civil Service capabilities, this report applies the framework of lessons and tensions from previous reforms to the proposals in Meeting the challenge of change, the Capabilities Plan published by the Civil Service in April 2013.

Our analysis highlights some important strengths, with momentum and clarity emerging around the corporate role in key areas of capability. However, the underlying tensions that remain will need further consideration if they are not to frustrate progress over the longer term.

We argue that the civil service leadership could be more explicit about the model that is being developed for corporate support of capability – and in turn provide a more compelling view for departments of what ‘good’ looks like in these priority areas.