Defra appoints COO to ‘deliver for the future’

Defra has announced the appointment of Cabinet Office bigwig Nick Joicey as its second permanent secretary, operations chief, and leader of the environment department’s work focused on science and analytics

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has appointed its first ever second permanent secretary who will lead the department’s STEM-focused work and ensure it is equipped for the future.

Nick Joicey, who is married to Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, has been chosen for the new dual role, which will also oversee the strategy and science and analysis groups within the department, and will serve as chief operating officer.

The shakeup will see current Defra chief operating officer Sarah Homer changes roles to director general for portfolio delivery.


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Defra perm sec Tamara Finkelstein said she was “delighted” at the appointment to the new role, which she said will help to “build a Defra group that is designed to deliver for the future”.

Joicey is currently director general of the Cabinet Office’s economic and domestic secretariat, where he works with the prime minister, cabinet secretary and cabinet to drive forward the government’s top priorities.

Environment secretary Thérèse Coffey said he will bring “a wealth of knowledge from across government”. She also praised his previous work at Defra.

“I look forward to welcoming him back to Defra where he previously served with distinction as we continue to deliver on our exciting agenda to improve the environment and support our vital food, farming and water sectors,” Coffey said.

Joicey said he is “thrilled” to take on the role and the opportunity to move back to the “brilliant” department.

Prior to his current job at the Cabinet Office, Joicey held DG roles at the Department for Work and Pensions and at Defra, where he was DG for strategy, EU exit and finance. He was also previously head of the policy profession at Defra, and a director at the Treasury.

Tevye Markson

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