Company: Government Commercial Function
Location: High Wycombe


High Wycombe

£59,148 – £75,000 a year

Job Title: Associate Commercial Specialist – Head of Contract Management and Commercial Assurance

Role Summary:
As the Head of Contract Management and Commercial Assurance you will oversee the delivery and assurance activities of a complex £3.5bn portfolio integral to modern defence and security across the United Kingdom. Improving contract management is a Government priority identified by the Civil Service Board and the Air Commercial team has been transforming with a new Contract Management function which delivers services of contract administration, cost management and assurance. Your role will be to continue developing functional capability, set and deliver strategic objectives to embed and drive best practice and oversee the management of a team of Cost Managers, Commercial Assurance Managers and Contract Managers. This is an exciting opportunity for a dynamic leader with expert commercial capabilities and excellent negotiation skills to take lead of a critical and important area of our business.

High Wycombe

Security Clearance:

This role is at Associate Commercial Specialist level with a pay scale of £68,800 to £96,909+ up to 15% performance-related-pay, GCO pension and GCO terms. Successful candidates that are existing Civil Servants will be:
  • offered a salary in line with the standard Civil Service rules on level transfer or promotion;
  • offered the choice between GCO terms, or Cabinet Office Civil Service terms if they prefer. In such instances, the salary will be adjusted downwards to sit on the GCO Civil Service equivalent pay scale for ACS level which is £59,148 – £75,000.
  • Existing Civil Servants will move to modernised terms and conditions on appointment.
  • A loan agreement will apply to existing civil servants outside of the GCO who score a B at ADC and are successful at interview. For further information please get in touch with your recruitment contact.

As a valued employee of the Government Commercial Organisation (GCO), you will have access to all the benefits the centre has to offer; including flexible working, generous benefits, Career Coaches, Mentors, L&D, a Commercial College, active talent management and, most importantly, access to commercial projects that will far exceed the scale and complexity on offer elsewhere in the UK.

Please note that any move across the Civil Service on or after 4 October 2018 may have implications on an employee’s ability to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

Vacancy reference:
Civil Service Jobs Ref 41495

Reports to:
MoD Air Commercial Director

Closing Date:
8th March 2020

IMPORTANT: If you do not receive an acknowledgement of your application within 2 working days please contact:

The Role

Vacancy Description:
We empower people to do what they do best. This is an exciting role with senior levels of responsibility for someone to promote and deliver our ambitions to be the best contract management function in Government. The successful person will play an integral role in building on our achievements to date to ensure our ambitious vision becomes a reality.

The successful candidate will be responsible for:

  • Developing the annual contract management functional strategy to meet the Government Commercial Operating Standards, Air Commercial departmental strategy and vision of the RAF.
  • Overseeing and managing the delivery lifecycle of large, complex contracts, leading on all aspects of commercial and contract management activity such as regular supply and value analysis, contract assurance, supplier performance management, contract administration, cost management.
  • Lead commercial negotiations on contract variations and extensions ensuring the best commercial outcomes are delivered in line with the appropriate commercial strategy and innovation and value are maximised.
  • Support, challenge and advise all stakeholders ensuring adherence to best practice, policy and process, ensuring consistency of quality and delivery across all contracts.
  • Lead commercial assurance activities across all contracts to assure the processes of monitoring , managing and controlling costs are appropriate and administration of contracts are robust and representative of best in class contract management practice.

Relevant skills / experience needed
– No more than 4, don’t limit the candidate pool.

The successful candidate will be ambitions with the tenacity to succeed. They will be able to demonstrate the following essential criteria whilst bringing their own passion and ideas:

  • An expert in the field of contract management which experience of cost management, assurance and auditing, and contract administration.
  • Experience of contract reporting, payment application management, variations, negotiation, assurance activities and contract exit or transition
  • Ability to implement effective cost control and assurance processes that recognise the differences between project budget performance and contract administration
  • Experience of managing complex transactions, senior stakeholders and challenging suppliers
Essential Criteria:

As well as a CV, candidates will need to submit a supporting Statement of Suitability demonstrating/evidencing their capability to meet the essential criteria below.

  • Significant experience in delivering robust commercial strategies, procurement processes and contract management with a strong delivery focus with the ability to operate successfully and deliver within a challenging and complex environment.
  • Strong negotiator, with a drive to deliver value for money and achieve excellent service from our suppliers.
  • Evidence of developing and managing effective relationships with stakeholders at all levels in a complex and strategic commercial environment, through effective communication, gravitas and personal impact & strong customer and supplier relationships management skills
  • Experience of developing commercial strategies, with solid delivery plans, demonstrating significant commercial results such as savings or Indirect benefits and Experience of budget, forecast or financial ownership
  • You must demonstrate significant leadership experience in leading complex contracts and development of commercial teams.
  • You should have experience of constructing detailed contracting strategies to meet customers’ exacting technical requirements, along with a thorough understanding of the supply chain and industrial landscape. These skills must be underpinned by an in depth understanding of the fundamentals of contracting.

Indicative Timeline

Please note that these dates are only indicative at this stage and could be subject to change. If you are unable to meet these time frames, please let us know in your application.

The anticipated timetable is as follows:

Advert Open & Close:
12/02/2020 – 08/03/2020

Sift Meeting:
w/c 9th March 2020

Assessment Centre:
23rd & 26th March 2020 (to be held in central London – please keep the date free)

Final Panel Interviews:
Anticipated Outcomes: TBC

Overview of the Process

The Government Commercial Function has its own professional standards framework and the recruitment process is based on this as well as the essential and desirable criteria for the role.

Your CV and statement of suitability will be assessed by the panel against the criteria for the role. If the panel deems you have passed the sift on that basis, you will be invited to attend the commercial assessment centre. After the assessment centre, the panel will consider all applicants who obtain either an A or B and decide who to put forward to a final panel interview.
The assessment centre and final panel will be held in Central London. You will be advised of the format in advance.

Candidates may have the opportunity to meet with the recruiting Line Manager to learn more about the role and the organisation, further detail of this will be confirmed with the applicant.

We regret that due to the volume of applicants, we are unable to provide feedback to candidates who do not get through the sift stage.
The Department
Air Commercial is part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). We play a vital role in supporting defence by contracting a diverse portfolio of requirements ranging in value and complexity from long term commitments in specialist capability areas to low value short term support contracts and sales contracts generating spare capacity income and supporting wider defence engagement priorities. Commercial Officers place approx. £600m of various procurements contracts each year. We also manage an exciting contract portfolio of over 180 live contracts worth over £3.5bn. At Air Commercial you will work within a highly capable team who will support you to develop your skills, knowledge and experience, we employ talented people who challenge and operate best in class practices.

Welcome Message from Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer

Thank you for your interest in joining HM Government’s Commercial Function.

Building a strong Commercial Function in Government, and with it the right commercial capability, is at the heart of a far-reaching programme of Civil Service reform.

The Government Commercial Function is more than just the response to the challenges that Government has faced in recent times; it is an essential element of the Government’s efforts to address the value for money agenda, while delivering higher quality public services.

Our vision is to make the Government’s Commercial Function the best in the UK: staffed with top commercial specialists, creating and managing innovative, efficient and effective commercial arrangements. This is an exciting and diverse environment – we spend around £49bn per year on procurements that range from £100k to multi-billion pound contracts, with annual spend on individual contracts often exceeding £500m. Our supply base includes SMEs and the largest multinationals and our business models have the Government acting as shareholder or sponsor, as well as being an ‘intelligent client’.

We need to continue to improve our knowledge of the marketplace. We need to maximise value from our commercial dealings and increasingly have to put in place the tools to achieve that; better IT and databases, consistent methodology and benchmarking. But tools alone are not enough. We need senior commercial specialists across all Government departments working collectively to address common ‘Crown’ objectives and acting as a single customer.

We have recognised the crucial importance of building the senior leadership group within the Commercial Function; recognised as senior professionals, supported through ongoing specialised training and development, and encouraged to make personal progress. We are building a cadre of commercial talent in all Government departments; people who can manage our commercial portfolios, who can lead our most complex and novel programmes and projects, people who have the gravitas and depth of experience to work alongside our policy and operational leaders to develop innovative commercial arrangements, whether through joint ventures, outsourcing or best-in-class contracts.

I hope you will be inspired to join us and help lead the ongoing commercial reform agenda of the Civil Service. You won’t find a more exciting or diverse challenge elsewhere.

Gareth Rhys Williams

Background to the Government Commercial Function

The Civil Service is one of the biggest and most complex employers in the UK, employing over 400,000 Civil Servants serving both Ministers and the public to deliver the priorities of the Government of the day. These include major projects with a lifecycle cost of around £500bn, as well as programmes and services that affect everyone in the United Kingdom. The annual spend is c. £49bn per annum with a range of suppliers including SMEs.

Following issues with some major contracts and key suppliers, the Civil Service has committed itself to dramatically improving its commercial performance. This has included establishing a Commercial Function that will operate with, and in support of, departments. A senior Government Chief Commercial Officer was appointed from the private sector to head up the Commercial Function. This is also aligned with the first set of Commercial Standards published for Government in February 2016, updated in November 2016 which we now benchmark against.

Commercial resources overseen by the function number some 4000 staff across Whitehall, and consist of:

  • A number of core interlocking central teams working together on Policy, Standards and Continuous Improvement, Complex Transactions, Markets and Suppliers (that will build pan-Government relationships with key suppliers) and Commercial Capability
  • Colleagues in the Commercial Directorates within Departments and Agencies, and
  • The Crown Commercial Service, a trading fund sourcing common goods and services for the Civil Service and the wider public sector, managing spend of circa £13bn

The Commercial Function is led by Gareth Rhys Williams, the Government Chief Commercial Officer (GCCO). He reports directly to the Chief Executive of the Civil Service, John Manzoni.

Additional Information

The information offered is supplied in good faith but does not in itself form any part of the contract of employment.

The post is advertised to suitably qualified people in the external market and on level transfer or promotion to existing Civil Servants and those in accredited Non Departmental Public Bodies.

Appointment Term:
Applicants must have achieved an A or a B* at a GCF Assessment and Development Centre (ADC) or be willing** to attend an ADC.

  • Those candidates with a B grade would only be eligible for appointment on a fixed term basis (for external candidates) or temporary promotion basis (for existing Civil Servants) until such time when they secure an A at the ADC, at which point they can be offered a permanent contract without further competition. ‘A’ grade candidates will be eligible for permanent appointments.
** For those who have already attended an ADC and not achieved an A or B, they must be eligible to re-sit (in line with re-assessment policy).

Arrangements for interview
: Expenses incurred by candidates during the recruitment process will not be reimbursed by the Department except in exceptional circumstances and only when agreed in advance.

Working Arrangements:
This role is available for full-time, part-time or flexible working arrangements (including job share arrangements).
Security Clearance: This role requires Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) and either Counter Terrorism Check (CTC) or Security Check (SC) clearance. Information for candidates about security clearance can be found at:
Please note that CTC clearance would normally require 3 years’ UK residency in the past 3 years and SC clearance would normally require 5 years’ UK residency in the past 5 years. This is not an absolute requirement but supplementary checks may be required where individuals have not lived in the UK for the required period. This may mean that your security clearance (and therefore your appointment) will take longer or, in some cases, not be possible.
Reserved for UK Nationals: Certain posts, notably those concerned with security and intelligence, might be reserved for British Citizens, but this will not normally prevent access to a wide range of developmental opportunities within the Civil Service.

This is not a reserved post.
Conflicts of Interest: Candidates must note the requirement to declare any interests they may have that might cause questions to be raised about their approach to the business of the Department. They are required to declare any relevant business interests, shareholdings, positions of authority, retainers, consultancy arrangements or other connections with commercial, public or voluntary bodies, both for themselves and for their spouses/partners.

The successful candidate will be required to give up any conflicting interests and his/her other business and financial interests may be published.

Equality and Diversity:
The Government Commercial Function is committed to being an equal opportunities employer. We value and welcome diversity. We aim to develop all our staff to enable them to make a full contribution to meeting our objectives and to fulfil their own potential on merit. We will not tolerate harassment or other unfair discrimination on grounds of sex, marital status, race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, disability, age, religion or sexual orientation. We will promote and support the use of a range of flexible working patterns to enable staff to balance home and work responsibilities; we will treat people fairly irrespective of their working arrangements.

Under the terms of the Equality Act 2010, we are legally required to consider making reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people are not disadvantaged in the recruitment and selection process. We are therefore committed to meeting, wherever possible, any needs you specify in your application. We will also consider any reasonable adjustments under the terms of the Act to enable any applicant with a disability (as defined under the Act) to meet the requirements of the post.

The Government Commercial Function offers a Guaranteed Interview Scheme (GIS) for all disabled applicants. We are committed to interviewing all applicants with a disability who provide evidence of meeting the minimum requirements necessary for the post, as set out in this applicant pack.

To be eligible, your disability must be within the definition laid down in the Equality Act 2010. A disabled person is defined by the Equality Act 2010 as someone who has a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities. For the purposes of this policy, these words have the following meanings:
  • ‘Substantial’ means more than minor or trivial
  • ‘Long-term’ means that the effect of the impairment has lasted, or is likely to last, 12 months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
  • ‘Normal day-to-day activities’ include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping.

Should you consider yourself eligible to apply for this post under the Guaranteed Interview Scheme, please complete the relevant section during the application process.

Civil Service Code:
All Civil Servants are subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Code that details the Civil Service values, standards of behaviour and rights and responsibilities. For further information visit Gov.UK.

Civil Service Recruitment Principles
: The Government Commercial Function’s recruitment processes are underpinned by the principle of selection for appointment on merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as described in the Civil Service Commission Recruitment Principles.

More detailed information can be found on the Civil Service Commission website:
Complaints: If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles, and you wish to make a complaint, you should contact Helen Mallison ( in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can contact the Civil Service Commission via the following web page:

Reserve Lists:
If we receive applications from more suitable candidates than we have vacancies for at this time, we may hold suitable applicants on a reserve list for 12 months, and future vacancies in the Civil Service requiring the same skills and experience could be offered to candidates on the reserve list without a new competition.

Line Manager Notification:
For internal candidates we strongly recommend that you advise your Line Manager of your application, particularly if you get to assessment centre stage. Previous candidates have found it helpful to discuss the ADC outcome report with their Line Manager and seek their support on areas for development.

Alternative Formats:
If you wish to receive a hard copy of the information, or in an alternative format e.g. Audio, Braille or large font then please contact: