Chief Operating Officer

The Defence Safety Authority (DSA) is an independent body, established under Charter from the Secretary of State for Defence, to undertake the roles as internal Regulator (where Defence has authority), investigator of safety-related accidents and near misses and provider of 3rd party assurance of compliance with Defence Regulations and associated policy on Health, Safety and Environmental Protection (HS&EP). It delivers an integrated framework of regulatory, assurance and enforcement functions across 7 Defence domains: air, land, maritime, nuclear, ordnance, munitions and explosives (OME), fire and medical services. It provides independent safety policy and advice, and independent end-to-end evidence-based assurance to SofS that the highest standards of safety are maintained in the conduct of Defence activities and overseas. The Defence Safety Authority also supports safety-related Service Inquiries and other accident investigation across Defence through the Defence Accident Investigation Branch.

Job description

The Director General, Deputy Director General, Chief Operating Officer and HQ staff are responsible for interacting with higher formations in Defence, working closely with the Secretary of State for Defence, the Permanent Secretary and other Departments within Head Office including the Director of Health, Safety & Environmental Protection, and working with Other Government Departments and regulatory bodies.

Safety remains a high-profile topic within and beyond the Department, and the DSA has an important role as the MOD’s independent Regulator, investigator and provider of assurance for safety-related issues. New relationships are being developed between the DSA, the Head Office D Health, Safety and Environmental Protection and Statutory Regulators and the Defence Safety Authority Chief Operating Officer will be central to building and maintaining these relationships. Safety-related Service Inquiries, inquests into the deaths of Service personnel and continuing scrutiny of Defence’s safety performance by the House of Commons Defence Committee all focus on the role of the DSA and the Chief Operating Officer will be required to provide well-judged and researched advice to the Director General and beyond on such activity and correspondence, balancing the importance of open and independent scrutiny with reputational considerations.

The Defence Safety Authority’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) is directly accountable to the Director General but working in consultation with the Deputy Director General and Director Military Aviation Authority (MAA), will spread the managerial load and function as a traditional COO.

The Defence Safety Authority Chief Operating Officer will lead the DG’s HQ staff and coordinate delivery of DSA HQ outputs, including the DG’s Annual Assurance Report to the Defence Board, command support functions, business services support, producing and managing the DSA Business Plan and managing the HLB as Budget Holder on behalf of the DG.

The COO will chair the DSA Management Group, responsible for overseeing and reporting on the DSA’s Core Inputs and for aligning management approaches across the DSA.

The Chief Operating Officer will work in conjunction with the Deputy Director General and the Director of the DSA Regulator Group to spread the DSA managerial load and act as the main interface with MOD Head Office, including MOD Chief Operating Officer and the Director HS&EP.

Please see attached the candidate information pack for further details.


The COO’s main responsibilities will be to:

• Lead the DG’s HQ staff and coordinate the delivery of DSA HQ outputs.
• Provide Command Support to the DG, including planning, analysis and reporting, secretariat, communications, Service Inquiry support and governance support through the HQ Command Support Team and production of the DG’s Annual Assurance Report to the SofS and Defence Board.
• Provide Business Service Support across the DSA, including workforce, finance, facilities and infrastructure, Knowledge and Information Management, security and Occupational Health & Safety and Estates (across 3 main DSA sites) support through the Business Services Team.
• Lead on producing and managing the Annual DSA Business Plan drawing on the DSA Strategy and coordinate domain-specific inputs, agreeing associated resource levels and efficiency targets with Head Office, reporting business outputs, financial and business risks to the DSA Main Board.
• Manage the HLB as delegated budget holder on behalf of the DG, ensuring compliance with policy and maximising the DSA’s efficiency and effectiveness.
• Maintain, manage and support the following DSA Governance arrangements: corporate risk management, business plan and business plan reporting.
• Set and assure all internal policy and process across the DSA for finance, administration, estates management and business processes.
• Chair the DSA Management Group responsible to DG DSA and to the DSA Main Board for overseeing and reporting on the DSA’s Core Inputs (people, finance, facilities, equipment and systems).
• Act as the main interface with MOD Head Office, including the MOD Chief Operating Officer, Director Health, Safety and Environmental Protection and the Head Office Business Partners for Civilian HR, Military Workforce Requirements, Finance and Commercial.
• Act as the senior civil servant in the Defence Safety Authority.
• Lead a team of 31 civil service and 6 military personnel based in London and Bristol.
• Accountable to the Director General, as a Head Office HLB Holder, for management of the Defence Safety Authority’s resources through the DSA Business Plan. The DSA’s 2020/21 CT is £49.822M, including provision for a headcount of 450 people.
• Accountable for gathering, analysing and processing the information required to produce the DSA Annual Assurance Report which the DSA’s Charter requires the Director General to present to the SofS and the Defence Board and to publish on the Government website.
• Accountable for the accuracy and quality of submissions made in response to Ministerial, Parliamentary and public correspondence.

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