Who will win?

Through the Civil Service Data Challenge, we sought ideas from civil servants on how government can improve its use of data – and volunteers to work with senior leaders and technical specialists on taking forward the best ideas. Entries closed on 29 July: we received 120+ ideas from civil servants in a huge range of grades, roles, professions and organisations.

At the Shortlist event we announced the finalists, and its almost time to announce the winners! To join us at the finale event on 23 March in London, complete this link.

Learn more

Grid of partners logos

“I am delighted to be sponsoring the Data Challenge in its second year, having seen the extraordinary response we got from teams across the Civil Service last year.

“The enthusiasm and skill of the competing teams was equalled by the quality and ingenuity of their proposals. Last year’s finalists are already driving real world improvements in public services.”

Alex Chisholm photoAlex Chisholm
Chief Operating Officer, Civil Service, and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office

The winning team, with judges

Find out more

Read our news report on December’s Final

Read our article on how the Data Challenge turned one civil servant’s “vague possibility” into a live project

Watch the finalists giving their presentations and answering the judges’ questions in the 30-minute videos below

The 2021 Winner

Deploy AI to protect and enhance our peatlands

At the 2021 programme Final on 9 December 2021, four teams presented their ideas to the Final Decision Panel – who picked as the overall winner a plan to train AI systems to identify peatlands drainage channels, supporting work to restore these sensitive environments. Panel chair Alex Chisholm, the Cabinet Office permanent secretary and Civil Service chief operating officer, called the scheme “outstandingly innovative” and noted its potential to reduce CO2 emissions, cut public spending, reduce flood risk and generate intellectual property.

This project is now up and running. And meanwhile, the Challenge has supported another of the finalists’ ideas into implementation: supporting emergency planning work, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has built a data dashboard estimating the distribution of UK citizens overseas.

Deploy AI to protect and enhance our peatlands

Track prisoners’ contacts to support rehabilitation​

Construction industry benefit fraud and error

Gather better statistics on UK citizens abroad


Vicki Chauhan

“The Civil Service Data Challenge is a fantastic way for central government to rethink the way it uses data, by giving civil servants a chance to present these ideas directly to senior leadership. By prioritising data and putting it at the heart of everything it does, the government is putting itself in a strong position to excel in the years to come.”

Vicki Chauhan

Head of Public Sector, NTT DATA UK

Stephen Barclay

“Using data to modernise public services is a top priority. This innovative project shows the civil service at its best and I’m excited to hear about how it drives CO2 reductions.”

Steve Barclay

Former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, on the 2021 winner

Julia Lopez photo

“I’ve found civil servants full of ideas on how to realise the Government’s objectives. Now we want to apply that inventiveness and expertise to one of the most fundamental challenges facing the civil service: that of realising the potential of our huge data assets.”

Julia Lopez MP

Former Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Photo montage of our judges

Our sponsors and judges

The 2022 Civil Service Data Challenge is sponsored by very senior figures, giving the project reach and influence across government. The judges, who include top data specialists from the Civil Service and NTT DATA, will select first the eight ideas to develop within the programme, and then the four that will go forward to the Final. 


Timeline: 2022 programme

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Launch of applications

Friday 29 July 2022

Applications close and long list process begins

Friday 30 September 2022

Longlist of applications published

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Pitch event (the Semi Final)

Thursday 23 March 2023

The Final

Information for managers

All those submitting ideas or volunteering to join a team have required their line manager's permission. If you are selected to join a development team, you'll need to spend time on the project over the coming months; so if you get a new line manager, please show them our Information for line managers page. Here our sponsor, Civil Service Chief Operating Officer Alex Chisholm, explains the benefits of getting involved and asks managers to support participating staff.