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Treasury official appointed as first Whitehall CFO

TREASURY OFFICIAL Julian Kelly has been appointed as Whitehall’s first chief financial official, ending hopes that a private sector candidate would be appointed to oversee government spending.

Kelly, a qualified accountant, will be promoted from his current role as the Treasury’s director of public spending to the new post of director general public spending and finance – essentially a CFO for central government.

The creation of the new role, which combines Kelly’s existing role with the head of government finance, follows a financial management review conducted by the Treasury last year amid calls from the profession for changes to the way government manages public money.

Vernon Soare, executive director at the ICAEW, which had called for the creation of a government CFO following a damning report into the botched introduction of David Cameron’s flagship programme of welfare reforms, said the new director general needs to turn the Treasury “into a modern and pro-active finance ministry”.

“As an early priority, the new director general needs to put in place a strategy, setting financial management standards which other departments can follow. This will enable him to monitor, challenge and hold departments to account,” Soare said.

Kelly, who previously worked in the private sector at HSBC, will report to Sharon White, second permanent secretary to the Treasury and will also have a formal management relationship with all the heads of finance across departments.

The changes will strengthen financial leadership across government and the new post will also be able to drive reforms to financial management, the Treasury said.

“Controlling the public finances and getting the deficit down is a key part of the government’s long term economic plan. Julian Kelly was the outstanding candidate and will play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the next spending review, and leading the government finance function through its implementation,” said chancellor George Osborne.

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