Cabinet Office denies conflict over crown rep's role at MoD supplier

Michael Keegan, who works with BAE Systems and is a NED for Centerprise, will avoid conversations on bidding
Photo: Ministry of Defence

The Cabinet Office has dismissed concerns over a perceived conflict of interest after it was reported that Michael Keegan, a civil servant working with military supplier BAE Systems and his directorship of a government technology supplier with numerous Ministry of Defence contracts.

Keegan is a non-executive director for the IT supplier Centerprise, which has won a number of Ministry of Defence contracts since September 2019 including several worth more than £1m.

He has also worked as the Cabinet Office’s crown representative for BAE Systems since September 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said that Keegan plays no part in awarding contracts and that it declared the non-executive directorship as part of its conflict of interest processes. However, the Cabinet Office added that he has agreed to remove himself from any discussions on contract bidding. The two roles were highlighted by the Sun and other publications.

He is married to Gillian Keegan, who has served as minister for care and mental health since September 2021. Keegan's position had not been confirmed in new prime minister Liz Truss’s reshuffle at the time of writing.

“We have a clear conflicts of interest process that ensures that all conflicts are identified and recorded formally and this safeguards our procurement and commercial processes,” a Cabinet Office spokesperson said.

"Michael Keegan is responsible for managing the relationship between the government and BAE Systems. He plays no role in awarding contracts to suppliers and declared his position at Centerprise as part of the Cabinet Office's conflict of interests process."

However, as a conflict mitigation measure Keegan will remove himself from any conversations about bidding for public sector contracts.

The Cabint Office introduced crown representatives in 2011 to improve the government’s procurement, including through better co-ordination between departments. Most of the representatives currently in post deal with named strategic suppliers, in some cases several, but Keegan is listed only for BAE Systems.

Before his post at Centerprise, which says it has served the defence sector for more than 35 years, Keegan held a number of senior jobs at Fujitsu, including chief executive of its UK and Irish business.

A version of this story first appeared on CSW's sister title PublicTechnology,


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