‘This is sector is being revolutionised by emerging technologies’ – DfT seeks to boost leadership with second perm sec

Postholder will assume responsibility for science and analysis

Credit: PA

To help support the development of policy and strategy in sector that is “being revolutionised by emerging technologies”, the Department for Transport is creating a new role of second permanent secretary.

The candidate pack says the appointee, who will earn up to £160,000 per year, will need to be a source of “leadership, coherence and strategic drive” on cross-cutting challenges faced by DfT. 

It adds they will help to lead work on aviation, maritime, security, international transport, science and analysis – and be responsible around one-third of the department’s staff, plus a range of arm’s-length bodies, including the Civil Aviation Authority and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Perm sec Bernadette Kelly said driving the department’s work to decarbonise all modes of transport by 2050 and coordinating its contribution to the government’s levelling-up agenda would be key areas for the new second perm sec.

In her foreword in the candidate pack, Kelly – who has been at DfT’s helm since April 2017 – acknowledged the “profound impact” of Covid-19 on the department’s work to ensure the smooth and safe running of the nation’s infrastructure. She said the pandemic had added an additional layer to the major strategic challenges faced by the sector.

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“Transport is currently the biggest source of domestic UK carbon emissions,” she said. “The department will therefore play an essential role in leading the government’s decarbonisation goals. The recently published Decarbonising Transport Plan sets out an ambitious plan to decarbonise across all modes of transport by 2050. Transport is also at the heart of the government’s ambitions for levelling up; transport can play a critical role in transforming economic geography and is also a vital lifeline for people and communities, connecting them to education, jobs and opportunity.”

Kelly added: “This is also a sector which is being revolutionised by emerging technologies and business models. In DfT, we will play a key part in shaping that future in a way which benefits society, the economy and the environment. I am looking for a second permanent secretary who can help to drive our agenda and build our capability in these areas.”

Kelly added that the new second perm sec would also be tasked with responding effectively to major disruption in the nation’s transport network and working with leaders across the aviation and maritime sectors to support their post-pandemic recovery.

The perm sec said the new role would be a “great opportunity” to make a difference to the nation for someone with a strong track record in senior leadership and excellent policy and delivery credentials.

DfT’s job advertisement for the role says the second perm sec can be based in London, Leeds or Birmingham.

Applications for the position are open until 9am on Monday November 1.


Sam Trendall

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