Government Finance Function

The role of the Government Finance Function, the services and standards it manages and the professional network it supports.

The Government Finance function works across government to make sure public money is spent efficiently and effectively.

The function has over 10,000 people working in 46 departments, covering a wide range of roles from strategic business partners to technical accountants. We are responsible for over £700 billion expenditure a year, managing over £1,300 billion of assets and £3,100 billion of liabilities.

Over the last 20 years the function has focussed on becoming more professional and improving financial reporting. In 2001 Resource Accounting was introduced to bring the public sector in line with private sector best practice and a majority of departmental finance directors are now financially qualified.

In 2013 the Chancellor and the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced a Review of Financial Management in HM Government. The review was conducted with input from the private sector. It concluded whilst financial management and public spending control have been improving, more needed to be done to improve financial management to develop better public services and support public sector reform.

To respond to the review’s recommendations, the Financial Management Reform programme was developed, which aims to put finance at the heart of decision making by protecting, driving and adding value for money. The programme focusses on 5 key themes:

  • developing our talent of pipeline to senior roles
  • creating a strong development offer for all in Finance, building financial capability and driving continuous improvement
  • sharing expertise across government by creating four new Centres of Excellence, taking action to stabilise shared services, and developing more standardised processes
  • enhancing the way we use data and management information across government to improve decision making, resource allocation, value for money and ensuring Ministers and senior officials have access to relevant, high quality and timely MI
  • establishing a costing unit, which will carry out new projects on specific areas of government spend to develop a more detailed understanding of inputs, outputs and outcomes

Our leadership

A qualified accountant by training, Julian Kelly is the Director General of Public Spending and Finance at HM Treasury. His role was created following the Financial Management Review’s recommendation to merge the role of Head of Public Spending and Head of the Government Finance Profession. This strengthens leadership of the Finance function with finance and spending being brought together for the first time.

My vision for Government Finance is simple but critical: to put finance at the heart of decision-making, protecting, driving and adding value. Our job is to help decision makers decide where to allocate money, how to control it, and then make sure we spend it in a way that gets the best value for taxpayers.

Career opportunities and professional development

The function is supported by the Government Finance Profession which helps improve the skills of property professionals across government.

We provide learning and development opportunities to improve commercial skills across government on the Civil Service Learning website).


For any further queries about the Government Finance function please write to us at


The standards below apply to civil servants working in the Government Finance function and provide a base level that they must comply with. Some of these standards, such as Managing Public Money and the Green Book, Magenta Book, Aqua Book and Better Business Cases guidance, apply to all civil servants and anyone employed to work in or with central government including contractors.

Published 19 February 2016