Les Mosco to stand down – top procurement man at Ministry of Defence to go in September

les moscoLes Mosco, the top procurement man in the UK's Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced internally that he is leaving at the end of September after 7 years in the organisation. He has been the Commercial Director for Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) - the body within the MOD that does much of the procurement, programme management and logistics for the military - as well as having overarching responsibility for procurement across the whole of MOD.

It is no great shock really - Mosco signed up initially for a three year fixed term contract and had already extended that twice. It's a stressful role and he must be pushing 60 now, (although he has changed less in appearance over the last 20 years than anyone I know), so he probably feels he's done his bit for the UK public good.

He's seen a lot of uncertainty over the last three or four years, with the plans for turning DE&S into a GoCo (government-owned, contractor-operated organisation) falling through. The plan now is to create what looks like an impossible structure, with half a dozen separate partnership contracts for private sector firms to work with DE&S. I'm sure Mosco would defend the idea in public, but equally I would be surprised if he really thinks it is a good idea, so he may well be pleased to be out of it. (We confidently predict disaster for the scheme, although it may well never happen for various reasons).

Anyway, Mosco is the last of the strong central government procurement heads of his generation who provided a counter-balance to the centralising drive coming from Cabinet Office. David Smith at DWP, David Thomas at HMRC and Mosco were the three CPOs with the weight and experience to push back against some of the Cabinet Office power-grab, but all are gone or on the way now, leaving Vincent Godfrey as the senior CPO in Whitehall. So we may see faster progress towards the Crown Commercial Service vision - although as we get closer to the election, who knows what might happen.

Mosco's career has been one of the broadest and most impressive in procurement. Before MOD, he worked for British Coal, Network Rail, NatWest banking group, and Amerada Hess (oil and gas). Mosco's obvious integrity and thoughtful approach, as well as his huge experience, stood him in good stead with MOD colleagues and he was well regarded in the department. He's helped to get the MOD's acquisition and construction programme into a somewhat better shape after a history of cost overruns, and he's worked surprisingly effectively with his boss, Bernard Gray - they're very different characters but they've had a good working relationship.

Mosco has also kept a strong focus on skills development in the MOD commercial and procurement community, and has brought some good people into the team. That includes the impressive Steve Morgan, who may be his obvious successor if they want an internal candidate - although Morgan himself is no youngster either.

Mosco told us that he's "not looking for another full time role" but expects to do some consulting, non-executive or voluntary work. He's also talking about working with CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) - he's an ex President himself. Perhaps he'd like to write a few articles for us too and tell us what really went on with various interesting MOD contracts? I doubt whether he will do that, but we wish him the very best for whatever he does next.

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  1. The Guitar Man:

    Les will be sorely missed in Government Procurement circles. A man of great integrity and, of course, ability. Good luck for the future Les.

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