Cabinet Office relaunches recruitment for government security chief after first bid fails

Cabinet Office admits its initial bid to fill “probably the biggest and most important security job in the UK today” was "unsuccessful"


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By Sam Trendall

05 Nov 2018

The Cabinet Office has relaunched its recruitment bid for a new government chief security officer after admitting its first attempt to fill the role failed.

The GCSO position was first advertised six months ago. But, in response to a written parliamentary question from shadow Cabinet Office minister Jo Platt, minister for implementation Oliver Dowden said that “the original recruitment campaign… was unsuccessful".

Dowden said that the Cabinet Office has now relaunched its bid to recruit a new security leader, and is initially looking to appoint “a two-year fixed-term candidate for this role”.


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“Following this, a full recruitment exercise will be undertaken to fill this post permanently,” he added.

The GCSO job was first advertised in May, with an application window that closed on 4 June and final interviews scheduled for early July. 

For more than two years – since it was created in July 2016 – the post has been filled by Campbell McCafferty, director of cyber and government security in the Cabinet Office. But earlier this year the Cabinet Office indicated that this had only ever been considered a temporary state of affairs, until the government was ready to fill the role permanently.

Shadow minister Platt criticised the government for its failure to do so to date.

“The chief security officer role is critical for our national security and requires the stability and dedication of a permanent, long-term appointment,” she said. “It is shocking that the government are scrambling around to find a temporary fix after failing to recruit the right person, despite having two years to do so. Tory incompetence has once again undermined the stability our national security needs, and they are failing in their duty to keep Britain safe.”

CSW’s sister publication PublicTechnology contacted the Cabinet Office requesting further details of both the initial unsuccessful recruitment and the new process, as well as clarification on whether McCafferty is still performing the GCSO duties. It was awaiting a response at time of publication.

The GCSO position comes with a remit to serve as government’s top adviser on all security matters and manage overall strategy. The postholder is also the head of the government security profession and has ultimate responsibility for the National Cyber Security Strategy programme and the delivery of Foxhound – a pan-government network for sharing Secret-classified information currently being constructed by the Cabinet Office.

The job advert posted in May characterised the role as “probably the biggest and most important security job in the UK today”.

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