The Home Of Flexible Working, Find Your Flex Logo

Deputy Director, Science and Systems, Government Office for Science

This is a new position, which has been designed to take the lead in support of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser’s priority to transform the ways in which government commissions and uses scientific evidence, and plans and manages research and development in pursuit of its aims. It is one of three Deputy Director posts in GO-Science and corresponds to the first of GO-Science’s strategic objectives set out in the candidate pack.

The work will involve leading a very significant programme of process and cultural change which is just beginning to deliver – for instance, with last year’s Budget announcement of the creation of a new annual £50 million fund for R&D in support of government’s objectives. The postholder will be responsible for developing and leading this government-wide programme, bringing stronger co-ordination, leadership and professionalism to the ways in which government science systems operate.

A key part of the role will be to develop a number of key science networks:

• The 20 Chief Scientific Advisers (CSAs) across Whitehall. CSAs are typically appointed from the private sector or universities to posts at Director-General or Director level, and lead science systems within their departments;

• The work of the scientific researchers, science advisory committees, and policy officials across Whitehall who work with them;

• The Government Science and Engineering Profession, which covers the work of some 15,000 people throughout the civil service in a very diverse range of roles;

• The wider community of scientific expertise beyond government, whether represented by the National Academies (Royal Society, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Medical Sciences), universities, or individual experts.

The postholder will be working with all of these groups to take forward the various programmes for which the team has responsibility.

The Government Office for Science, jointly with HM Treasury, has recently embarked on a change programme relating to government science capability. A key responsibility for the postholder will be to bring this to fruition over the coming two years.

The Government Science and Engineering Profession has a published strategy: Some of its key ambitions are to secure appropriate levels of reward and recognition for scientific professionals, to improve our ability to bring talent into the civil service at all levels. Current high profile workstreams relate to developing apprenticeships within the Profession, and increasing the scale and impact of the Science and Engineering fast stream. Our aim is to ensure that careers in government are among the most attractive and exciting available to scientists and engineers.

The postholder will also have responsibility for the secretariat to the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology – an independent advisory body co-chaired by the GCSA which brings together national leaders from the worlds of academia, business and finance. Their advice has had a significant impact on government policy in a number of areas, including the Industrial Strategy, the application of data science, and connected and autonomous vehicles.

The successful candidate will be supported by three Grade 6-led teams: The Government Science and Engineering Profession team, the Science Capability team and the secretariat to the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.

In total, the Science and Systems team includes 25 people. Together, they constitute a group of diverse background including HR professionals, secondees from other government departments and research funders, and interns.

Key activities and responsibilities

• Providing thought leadership on the future of science in government, and continuing to shape a vision for its development.

• Implementing the change programme for government science capability – with implications for the ways in which science expenditure is planned and accounted for, and for mainstreaming scientific thinking into the work of the civil service as a whole.

• Oversight of the developing work programme of the Government Science and Engineering Profession.

• Oversight of the work of the secretariat to the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.

• Supporting the work of numerous science networks within government through secretariat and related activities.

• Managing the Government Office for Science’s relationships at senior level with:

1. the Policy Profession and Analytical Function Boards, and

2. the National Academies (Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, British Academy, and Academy of Medical Sciences).

• Deputising for the Government Chief Scientific Adviser when necessary at meetings and speaking engagements.

• Line managing three Grade 6 team leaders and EO personal assistant.

• Membership of the GO Science Senior Leadership Team, taking a visible lead alongside SCS colleagues within GO Science on corporate issues.

Person specification


• The ability to establish and develop close working partnerships across organisational boundaries, within government and beyond, including the ability to catalyse external work.

• The ability to establish strong personal relationships with national leaders in policy, science and engineering, building trust and confidence.

• Change management: experience of leading cultural and process change.

• Team leadership: the ability to create an inspiring vision, and to motivate and empower teams to work with autonomy and confidence to deliver a complex and challenging programme.

• A track record of effective delivery in a range of government contexts, including an understanding of how to get things done across Whitehall in the absence of ‘hard’ levers.

• An appreciation of the importance of, and the ability to deploy, expertise of all kinds (including civil servants from the whole range of professions).


• Some previous experience of government science, or scientific qualifications, may be an advantage to aspects of the role, but are not necessary for its effective performance. Knowing how, and when, to tap into others’ experience and expertise is more important.

Please take time to read the attached Candidate pack for further information about this role and the recruitment process.