Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a development framework for government communicators. Design/methodology/approach This paper describes how a working group approached the project which involved examining extant training frameworks from communication professional bodies, academic literature and practitioner communities; undertaking extensive interviewing and data collection from departments and obtaining input from external organisations in order to devise an original, process-driven model which embeds a strategic approach to communication. The paper also outlines the collaborative way in which the model was developed which included extensive input from government communicators at all levels of seniority, ongoing consultation and testing with potential users, private sector organisations and accrediting professional bodies. Findings Following a review of government communications in 2004, the new permanent secretary for government communication has begun to implement a range of initiatives. Work had already begun in the cabinet office on developing a more strategic approach to training and development and a working group was set-up originate and launch a development framework (now called evolve) for the whole civil service communication community. Originality/value The paper describes the development of evolve – an open, transparent and iterative approach which has elicited commendation and support from all the parties involved.