Military and Railway Man Nick Elliott Takes Up Top MOD Commercial Role

Getting to grips with the Ministry of Defence "Procurement" structure is a task beyond most of us, and even those within it struggle sometimes to explain its nuances and complexities.

Defence Equipment and Supply (DE&S) is now a “a bespoke trading entity, and arm’s length body of the Ministry of Defence”.  That organisation manages much of the core acquisition and support of defence equipment and services, with various private sector partners now playing a key role. But the "centre" in Whitehall still retains some power, and there are other bodies that spend a lot of money with suppliers who are totally outside DE&S such as Defence Estates, or the central IT organisation.

But DE&S is the key organisation though in terms of what most people think of as defence procurement - buying critical equipment, from aircraft carriers to ammunition, as well as all the support and logistics services around that equipment.

Les Mosco was Director-General, Commercial of that organisation until his retirement almost two years ago, then Susanna Mason took over. Meanwhile, Steve Morgan became the Commercial Director for MOD Whitehall, with the wider corporate brief including those procurement areas outside DE&S.  But Mason went back to the consulting world from whence she came a few months back, and now DE&S has appointed a successor - Nick Elliott.

Elliott is 50-ish, an engineer by training, and comes from Network Rail, where he was Managing Director, National Supply Chain. He seems to have progressed well through Network Rail over his eight years there – from a Crossrail role to Head of Integrated Planning, then Regional Director for Infrastructure Projects before his current role.

But before that, he had a twenty-year career in the army, laterally as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers and some time in a senior MOD planning role. We don't know Elliott, but in his new role that background should give him some serious stakeholder credibility with the uniformed contingent in the services. And Network Rail is one of the few organisations whose capital investment is on a similar scale to that of MOD. We'll try and get an interview with him at some point, but on paper at least, he looks like a highly appropriate appointment.

We do wonder whether Steve Morgan went for the job – historically it slightly outranked his current central corporate role.  Morgan is a veteran now, (he had a whole previous career in the Canadian Navy before getting into UK procurement) so there has been some speculation as to how long he will hang around. But good luck to Elliott, it’s a very challenging role but one that has great importance for British citizens and taxpayers.

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