About us

The Government Commercial Function is a cross-government network procuring or supporting the procurement of goods and services for the government.

What we do

The Government Commercial Function (GCF) is a cross-government network of around 4,000 civil servants procuring (or supporting the procurement of) goods and services for the government. It also consists of commercial experts who support departments in managing key commercial contracts, and planning for future commercial needs.

We aim to increase the commercial capabilities of the Civil Service, making significant savings for the taxpayer and delivering improved public services.

We support the network to develop the knowledge and skills needed to compete successfully in commercial environments on behalf of the government.

Who we are

The GCF is one of the Civil Service Functions. It is made up of commercial professionals supported by colleagues from a variety of disciplines.

The commercial directors and their directorates work on an agenda set by their department, supported by a number of central teams. Their activities are co-ordinated by the Government Chief Commercial Officer.

The central teams offer specialist support for departments:

  • Complex Transactions supports departments with complex procurements, negotiations with suppliers and on all cross-government disputes.

  • Markets and Suppliers provide supplier, market and sector intelligence to departments.

  • Commercial Continuous Improvements offers guidance, support, standards and controls on good commercial practice.

  • Commercial Capability is a programme set up to develop the commercial capability of colleagues across government.

How we are changing

As part of the government’s commitment to enhancing senior commercial expertise across the civil service, the GCF has built a cadre of highly skilled and experienced senior commercial professionals aligned to the People Standards for the profession.

We are reforming the commercial function. Our ambition is to make it the best commercial function in the UK, and we will do this by having the right people, with the right skills in the right organisational structure. This involves:

  • Robust assessment and development centre process is being used to assess the skills of the 400 most senior commercial professionals in government to ensure that they meet the standards required for the improved commercial function. Those who fall just short of these standards are provided with a tailored training and development package to help them to reach it. Candidates applying for these senior roles from outside government will go through the same assessment to confirm that they are at the required standard before being appointed.

  • These 400 most senior specialists are being brought into a new organisation called the Government Commercial Organisation (GCO), which is part of the Cabinet Office. These 400 specialists continue to sit within government departments, working on commercial contracts within those departments, but they are available to be deployed across government to support the most critical contracts.

  • Each department is developing a clearer understanding of its future commercial pipeline in order to shape it commercial staff structure to support this.

Whether working in defence, transport, health, education, culture, business, justice, or other department or centralised service, collectively, we work together to drive better value procurement and improve the delivery of public services.

The GCF and GCO are part of the Civil Service and the Cabinet Office.

How we work

We work with departmental teams and the Crown Commercial Service to procure goods and services and manage third-party suppliers.

Commercial professionals work right across the procurement cycle from strategy and pre-market engagement and procurement, through to contract management.

The GCF commercial standards for government define how all government departments should operate commercially to ensure consistency of commercial behaviours and purchasing across government.

We will continuously improve our processes by assessing ourselves against the standards and sharing best practice.

Career opportunities and professional development

The government commercial college on the civil service learning website, is where members of the profession can find out about the learning, qualifications and opportunities available to them.

The college outlines the learning and development available for all non-specialist civil servants, non-specialist senior civil servants and those looking to move into a commercial profession.

2017 Commercial Fast Stream Graduate applications

The latest application window opened in September 2016.

If you are a graduate looking to join the government commercial profession, you can find more details of the application process on the Fast Stream website.

If you would like to find out more about the Commercial Fast Stream 2017 you can opt-in to our mailing list and register your interest.

2017 Commercial Fast Track Apprenticeship applications

We anticipate that our next application window to join us in September 2017 will open early 2017.

Find out more about the Fast Track Apprenticeship scheme.