FCDO extends recruitment window for new second perm sec

Department gives potential candidates three more weeks to apply for £160k role
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, seen from Whitehall

By Jim Dunton

06 Apr 2023

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has added three weeks to the recruitment window for its next second permanent secretary.

It began recruiting for a No.2 to work under perm sec Sir Philip Barton – known as the permanent under-secretary in the FCDO’s language – last month.

While would-be applicants for the £160,000-a-year role were originally given a deadline of 2 April to throw their hats into the ring, the recruitment campaign is still live and now states it is accepting applications until 24 April.

The department, created out of the 2020 merger between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, has been without a second perm sec since Sir Tim Barrow left to become national security adviser in September last year.

However, the FCDO has been clear that the job it is currently recruiting for is a different leadership post to that held by Barrow.

The new focus of the role is to lead on international development. The change was flagged in last month’s Integrated Review 2023 strategy refresh as part of a package of measures to “maximise the benefits” of the merger.

According to FCDO’s job advert, the successful candidate will be tasked with delivering the government’s international development strategy, providing “senior leadership to the development community” and acting as delegated accounting officer for Official Development Assistance programmes.

They will also be tasked with ensuring the “alignment” of the FCDO’s approaches to international development and foreign policy.

In the application pack, FCDO Barton makes a direct reference to the government’s controversial 2021 rollback on the pledge to spend 0.7% of national income on ODA in light of financial pressures caused by the Covid pandemic.

“I have created a second permanent under-secretary to lead the department’s development work, ensuring delivery of the government’s international development strategy in a constrained resource environment as part of an integrated vision for development and diplomacy to deliver the UK’s international objectives,” he says.

“I am looking for a confident, empowering leader, with exceptional influencing and stakeholder engagement skills, excellent judgement and a track record in the provision of policy advice.

“The successful candidate will have a long-term vision for their area of work; help to set the overall direction of the department; shape and deliver the government’s international agenda, and play a major role in leading and empowering a diverse global organisation of more than 17,000 people.”

The senior civil service pay band 4 role is based in London.

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