The Home Office has appointed Serco Health director Abi Tierney as its director general responsible for leading HM Passport Office and UK Visas and Immigration.
Tierney, who is business-development director at the outsourcing giant, will be responsible for a workforce of around 13,500 people, based both in the UK and overseas, in her new role .
She will replace Mark Thomson, who last year announced plans to step down as director general of HMPO and UKVI from March. Thomson was managing director of Royal Mail International before being appointed to the job in 2015.
The Home Office said Tierney would “be responsible for maintaining a firm emphasis on national security and a culture of excellent customer service, while ensuring a focus on high quality decision making” at her new directorates, which issue around 7 million passports and deal with 4 million visa applications a year. The new post-Brexit points-based immigration system unveiled by the Home Office earlier this month, and due to be implemented from this autumn, is likely to radically alter the latter figure in terms of both volume and complexity.
Shona Dunn, second perm sec at the department, said Tierney had “led on transformation and operational excellence” at Serco Health, as well as being responsible for providing strategic direction to help the business grow.
“Abi brings with her a wealth of experience both in the private and public sector, which I know she will put to excellent use in leading her organisation through the coming years and continuing to deliver for the government and the public,” she said.
“I know everyone will want to welcome Abi and I am very much looking forward to working with her.”
Dunn also paid tribute to outgoing DG Thomson, who was initially appointed to lead HMPO and had UKVI added to his remit in 2016, for his “outstanding contribution” to both organisations.
“As all those who have worked with him know, his leadership during his time at HMPO and UKVI has been invaluable and he will be hugely missed,” she said.
Tierney said it was a “hugely exciting time” to be joining the Home Office.
Prior to working at Serco Health, Tierney was director of strategy and innovation at University Hospitals Leicester and before that she was director of strategic leadership at Aberdeen City Council. She has also been a marketing leader for IBM’s global services business.
The application pack for the HMPO and UKVI role said it was set with SCS Pay Band 3 and expected to offer a salary of between £111,500 and £140,000, depending on experience.
The Home Office’s annual report for 2018-19 states Mark Thomson’s salary for the year was in the £175-180,000 bracket following a £15,000 rise the previous year.