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Annual Report 2020/21 highlights

Our strategy

Strategy and performance

  • Our Purpose (Mission)

    We provide trusted, secure and resilient services to support diplomacy, defence and development for the UK Government and our global partners.

  • Our Ambition

    The organisation of choice for innovation in protecting the people, assets and data of the Government and its partners worldwide.

Our strategic objectives for 2020/21 are to Grow, Save and Innovate

  • Grow our business

    We are working towards increasing the amount of work we do outside of the FCDO.
    This approach will ensure we protect our revenues and broaden our customer base and is supported by the FCDO. The creation of the new FCDO also provides us with the opportunity to deliver different services in areas like development and aid.

  • Save resource

    We aim to save by streamlining our business to reduce costs, and increase agility, scalability, productivity, collaboration and teamwork. We have created a unified operations unit to lead all our delivery, projects and operations. This will help us make careful savings as we grow by minimising less productive activity. We will continue to focus on improving our operational efficiency and delivering even better value for our customers.

  • Innovate for future growth

    The FCDO will be a key department delivering the government’s ambitions for security and defence, as set out in the Integrated Review. We are perfectly placed to be at the heart of that policy by supporting the FCDO and delivering the technological innovation needed. We introduced a Digital and Innovation Office to provide science and technology services for our customers. This office will focus on science, technology and product development.

Our performance


Being a trusted part of government is central to what we do. Over the last year we’ve continued to maintain our broad range of critical services at the highest tier of security. Our teams delivered programmes that were vitally important to national security for the MoD, and finished complex construction programmes in remote parts of the world.

Our work this year included:

  • playing a vital role in the vaccination rollout programme for UK government staff around the world. We helped set up a completely new supply chain for the 140 overseas posts. By the end of the financial year our staff had either delivered, or had detailed plans to deliver, 93% of these vaccines.
  • rolling out Microsoft 365 to the FCDO, and monitoring the FCDO digital platform. During the merger of the FCO and DfID we worked to join the two legacy departments’ IT systems.
  • our Sensitivity Review Service continuing to use assistive technology to speed up the process of reviewing digital records. The team has also completed a feasibility study with HM Treasury to demonstrate how the Digital Sensitivity Review service works.
  • UK NACE, the National Technical Authority (NTA) for technical security, marking its 75th anniversary. It has performed over 125 inspections and evaluations of government and industry sites during this time. This year UK NACE has also started to raise its own profile, making its work more widely known across government and to the general public.


The last 12 months have underlined our ability to adapt, and the determination of our staff to continue to deliver services. Travel restrictions made it extremely difficult for parts of the organisation to work as normal. So, we changed our approach to make sure customers had access to our expertise and guidance.

Our work this year included:

  • increasing our activity in engineering and security work for our UK based clients, such as the MoD. This meant our staff could keep working and using their skills when they could not travel overseas.
  • delivering risk assistance, estates and facilities advice remotely, including online ‘tool talk’ sessions with posts around the world.
  • extensive planning to make sure we were prepared for the UK’s exit from the EU. This included creating a logistics hub in Frankfurt to avoid any potential border issues. We delivered at least 50% of our European mail through this hub in 2020/21.
  • maintaining some of the UK Visa and Immigration’s (UKVI) systems. The technology capturing biometric data of visa applicants wanting to travel to the UK relies on secure passes produced by FCDO Services, these are then sent around the world. We made sure there was a constant supply of passes throughout the pandemic.
  • delivering the diplomatic bag, Queen’s Messenger and private mail services for the FCDO. Logistics staff were on-site throughout the year, keeping colleagues in contact with their loved ones and delivering critical goods securely.


FCDO Services’ core purpose is to provide a range of integrated, secure services worldwide to support diplomacy, development and defence for the UK Government. We also offer services and expert advice to foreign governments and international organisations closely linked to the UK.

Across our four regions, the impact of COVID-19 could have halted all service operations. However, collectively, our teams created a new strategy so that posts were largely supported remotely. We did this by:

  • making sure that posts with a resident technical officer continued to have as normal a service as possible. These officers kept teams safe by staggering shifts.
  • reaching out to remote posts to make sure that questions and requirements were answered and addressed.
  • sending teams to those posts that needed in-person support after self-isolating.

Our relationships with international partners has gone from strength to strength. We’ve worked on several joint projects, and look forward to increasing this work with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.


As an organisation that delivers critical services in every corner of the world, the pandemic has required significant changes to the way we operate.

We reacted early in 2020, when the potential impact of COVID-19 began to unfold. We set up a dedicated crisis response command structure that would keep the organisation operating as much as possible. Quickly prioritising information, communication and leadership was vital to our successes..

To protect staff, we:

  • moved to remote working
  • updated policies to reflect the new situation
  • regularly checked staff physical and mental health, and adapted our approaches based on this
  • set-up a dedicated wellbeing page and newsletter for our staff.

We set up two command structures that brought together experts across the organisation to make decisions.

Silver Command

  • Part of the Bronze, Silver, Gold chain of responsibility
  • Took over management of preparations for the UK’s departure from the EU
  • Put safe working practices in place

Transition Command

  • Created a set of criteria (Transition Checkpoint) that all projects and services had to go through before work started
  • Continues to assess work against this criteria
  • Has been so successful, some international partners have used our Transition Command structure as a basis for their COVID-19 responses

FCDO Services timeline

  1. February 2020

    Gold, Silver and Bronze command mobilised. Daily Situation Report email issued to Bronze command

  2. 16 March 2020

    UK based FCDO Services staff advised to work from home

  3. 17 March 2020

    Foreign Office advises against all non-essential international travel

  4. 23 March 2020

    First UK National Lockdown announced

  5. 26 March 2020

    First FCDO Services Wellbeing Weekly newsletter sent to all staff

  6. April 2020

    Regular Silver Command bulletins set up and sent out twice a week to update staff on our pandemic response

  7. 28 April 2020

    Transition Command mobilised

  8. 3 June 2020

    The Government published its guidance on quarantine arrangements for people travelling to the UK, along with exemptions

  9. 4 June 2020

    Coronavirus update sent to all staff in line with Government guidance on quarantine arrangements. Any
    considerations for projects and operations which travel into and out of the country will be assessed on a case-by-case basis as part of the ‘Transition Check Point’ process and subject to a comprehensive Risk Assessment

  10. 18 June 2020

    First ever FCDO Services virtual All Staff Forum launched, enabling staff all over the world to dial in. Held monthly thereafter

  11. 24 July 2020

    Mask wearing in shops and supermarkets is compulsory

  12. 14 September 2020

    Rule of 6 introduced in the UK

  13. November 2020

    Internal restructure – One FCDO Services

  14. 5 November 2020

    Second lockdown introduced in England – for a 4 week period

  15. January 2021

    Schools remain closed and third lockdown underway

  16. 5-7 January 2021

    Leadership Conference held virtually for the first time

  17. 1 March 2021

    Vaccine Rollout Programme launched – Global deployment of AstraZeneca vaccine to 182 Posts for personnel across 68 agencies on the platform