MOD Procurement Recruitment – the jobs hit the market

The MOD roles we mentioned on Friday were indeed in the Sunday Times this week, and they’re also available on-line here and here  As we said, they’re huge and challenging roles, in particular the SCS2 role (Director - Commercial Operations for Defence Equipment and Support) with its direct  responsibility for well over £10 Billion a year of third party spend and hundreds (thousands?) of staff.

We wondered whether that recruitment  might mean that Les Mosco, to whom this new role reports, was moving on shortly from what is in effect the overall MOD CPO role (MOD Director Commercial).  But no, we understand he has signed a new contract - up until October 2014, we believe.  He’s clearly enjoying the Bernard Gray regime.

What are the positives of these roles? Well, if you like a challenge, working in MOD brings many in terms of the size, scope and complexity of the projects, contracts and internal dimensions. And MOD have genuinely been leaders in some important aspects of  public sector procurement (despite the flak they often get) over a range of strategic initiatives. For instance, I saw their work on supporting SMEs (small firms) in the supply chain, and on strategic partnering when I was a consultant a few years back and it was well ahead of anyone else I’d come across in the public sphere, and ahead of most in the private. Others have caught up in some areas, but MOD were real pioneers.

The "Heads of Commercial without portfolio" roles might be particularly interesting. Don''t think these are the poor relation jobs. You're more likely to get assigned to some really exciting new project, quite possibly leading edge and top-secret, than if you're in one of the more established Operating Centre roles looking at ships, aircraft etc.

And while you have to be prepared to work within the constraints of EU procurement regulations, plus a certain amount of MOD bureaucracy, there have been promising signs of a more flexible approach. The project we wrote about here that won a Management Consultancies Association Award this year was a great example of a sourcing based project that was delivered innovatively, quickly and effectively . It also saved lives, as well as money, which is an attribute of working for MOD that not many other procurement people get the chance to claim.

Location may be an issue for certain potential applicants – most of the roles are based at Abbey Wood near Bristol, which may be a positive or negative depending on your views. The two Defence Infrastructure roles offer the rather attractive but difficult choice between Andover, Sutton Coldfield or Huntingdon.  The salaries aren’t earth-shattering for the size of the roles, but they’re not bad at £130K plus for the most senior role and £100K for the others. And remember, a public sector final salary pension is worth around 40% of salary (actuarialy correct number there).

On the less positive side, the uncertainty over the future of Defence Equipment and Support, the organisation in which most MOD procurement sits, may discourage some folk. It still isn’t clear whether DE&S might be “outsourced” in some sense or enter some sort of innovative partnership with the private sector.  It's looking like the "Government Owned, Contractor Operated" (GoCo) option is favoured, based on Philip Hammond's  statement in Parliament this week, which we've just picked up.That's the closest of the options to what we might think of as "outsourcing". More on that to follow...

Having said that, if you’re confident of your abilities, the future in a MOD / Bechtel (or Serco, BAE Systems, KBR, CH2M HILL, etc) venture might be even more interesting, and perhaps more lucrative too, than remaining a pure civil servant! And if you’re not up for the challenge of such a move, you probably shouldn’t be applying anyway.

Anyway, it is good to see a bit of life in public sector procurement recruitment and we’ll follow the progress of the exercise with interest.

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