Richard Douglas, director general of policy, strategy and finance at the Department of Health (DoH), has succeeded Ministry of Defence (MoD) FD Jon Thompson as head of the Government Finance Profession.
Douglas retains his DoH role on top of leading the department for raising qualifications and skills among government finance directors.
A career in public finance has taken Douglas through three separate stints with the National Audit Office (NAO) – ending as its deputy director of finance in 1996 – a role as FD for National Savings & Investments and, prior to taking his current DoH post in 2007, a position as DoH acting permanent secretary.
As NHS FD, Douglas led projects that looked at improving financial governance and clarifying the role of NHS FDs. “In the days when everything was controlled from the centre, a lot of haggling went into securing an amount of money probably equal to last year’s budget, plus some more,” Douglas told Financial Director at the time. “That never incentivised anyone properly.”
After three years at the GFP, Jon Thompson will focus on the MoD amid swingeing budget cuts.
Last October, the Public Accounts Committee quizzed him on why he was not given control of its strategic financial planning, as the department revealed crippling overspend.
Douglas originally wanted to become a journalist, but took a temporary job in the Civil Service after university in 1978 and trained as an accountant with the NAO.
“I have given up [the journalism idea],” he told government finance magazine The Gazette last year.
“I have had many dealings with journalists and I am not sure I like them any more.”
Read our 2004 interview with then-NHS FD Douglas here