Our governance


Defence Council

The Defence Council is a formal body, with almost all of its work conducted by the Defence Board. The Secretary of State is the most senior individual in the Defence Council, which comprises of other Defence ministers, the Permanent Secretary, the Chief of Defence Staff, senior service officers and senior officials who head the armed services and the department’s major corporate functions.

Created by Letters Patent in 1964 it is essential to the legal functioning of the MOD. Via powers of prerogative, it gives the Secretary of State the ability to administer and command the Armed Forces by the Service Boards. The three Service boards (the Admiralty Board, the Army Board and the Air Force Board), which are sub-committees of the Defence Council, meet annually for each service chief to report to the Secretary of State on the health of their respective services.

The members of the Defence Council are:

Defence Board

The Defence Board is chaired by the Secretary of State and is responsible for top level strategic leadership of the Department, focusing on strategy and plans for generating military forces, including financial planning, performance against those plans, and risk. The Defence Board is the highest committee in the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It is responsible for the full range of defence business, other than the conduct of operations.

The Defence Board is responsible for the Defence Vision, which is: ‘To defend the United Kingdom and its interests, strengthen international peace and stability, and act as a force for good in the world’. In order to achieve this vision the Defence Board is responsible for pursuing 3 high level departmental objectives, namely:

  • achieve success in the military tasks we undertake, at home and abroad
  • be ready to respond to tasks that might arise
  • build for the future

In pursuit of these high level objectives the Defence Board’s core tasks are:

  • to help define and articulate the department’s strategic direction, and provide a clear vision and set of values for defence
  • to establish the main priorities and defence capabilities needed to achieve the strategy
  • to ensure that defence priorities and tasks are appropriately resourced
  • to manage corporate performance and resources in-year to achieve the required results

The members of the Defence Board are:

Defence Audit and Risk Assurance Committee

The Defence Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (DARAC) reviews and challenges the Department’s approach to internal control and provides independent advice both to the Defence Board and Permanent Secretary as the Accounting Officer, on the effectiveness of the policies and processes in use. Its main focus is to assure the integrity of financial reporting and effectiveness of risk management. The committee provides assurance that financial reporting, systems, risk and internal controls and processes are designed effectively and are operating as they should. It identifies a small number of activities for deeper dives each year, in support of this process.

The members of the Defence Audit and Risk Assurance Committee are:

Attendees include:

People Committee

The People Committee provides departmental direction, guidance and oversight on all strategic Defence people and training matters and holds the Chief of Defence People (CDP) to account for the delivery of the People Portfolio as the People Functional Owner.

The People Committee is a sub-committee of the Defence Board, providing advice as appropriate and taking decisions on its behalf on strategic People matters. It reports via the Executive Committee (ExCo) to help maintain departmental coherence on cross cutting issues. It provides direction and guidance to CDP and to the Defence People Leadership Team on all matters relating to the delivery of the People Portfolio.

The members of the People Committee are:

Investment Approvals Committee

The Investment Approvals Committee (IAC) acts on behalf of the Defence Board as the senior body in MOD responsible for decisions on major investment proposals. The IAC sets and enforces the policy and guidance for all investment and disinvestment decisions including where decisions are delegated.

The majority of IAC business is conducted through written correspondence but formally meets in person once a month to consider the most challenging cases In-Committee with additional meetings held as required. The Permanent Secretary, as the Accounting Officer, formally chairs the Committee, however this is normally delegated to Director General Finance for all but the most significant or material decisions. The IAC reports to the Defence Board through the Executive Committee (ExCo) and advises Defence Ministers on a course of action.

The members of the Investment Approvals Committee are:

Chiefs of Staff Committee

The Chiefs of Staff (COS) Committee is the principal means through which the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) gathers the collective military advice of the Service Chiefs in advance of other governance meetings in CDS’s role as the professional Head of the Armed Forces.

The members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee are:

Defence Safety and Environment Committee

The Defence Safety and Environment Committee (DSEC) is the principal forum within Defence responsible for the governance of Health, Safety and Environmental Protection.

The Committee brings together all the various parts of Defence at the most senior level to consider issues and risks across the Department and to ultimately make Defence safer for our own people, those affected by our activities, and the environment, wherever we are working in the world.

The members of the Defence Safety and Environment Committee are:

Defence Delivery Group

The Defence Delivery Group (DDG) is an executive committee that focuses on strategic delivery performance and issues across MOD. Chaired by Chief of the Defence Staff and the Permanent Secretary, it engages the relevant stakeholders and develops a mutual understanding of Defence priorities and planning to help drive forward the Department’s transformation portfolio and provide an opportunity to discuss collective issues arising from the Performance and Risk Review discussions. The DDG shapes and builds understanding of Defence plans and priorities, discusses and agrees the contributions members will have to make to deliver Defence plans and transformation and holds members collectively to account for their contributions.

The members of the Defence Delivery Group are:

Defence Board Non-Executive Directors are standing invitees.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee (ExCo) supports the Defence Board and is the main executive board for MOD; it provides top-level leadership and decision-making across Defence. ExCo drives the annual Defence Plan and identifies and responds to risks and issues through regular routine updates on sub-committee activity and by taking papers on other issues put forward by members and secretariat. The Committee considers the major managerial and strategic policy issues impacting Defence at a more delivery-focused level than the Defence Board.

The members of the Executive Committee are:

The Defence Board NEDs are invited to attend in months when the Defence Board is not sitting.

Defence Nuclear Executive Board

The Defence Nuclear Executive Board (DNEB) is the most senior board within MOD that deals exclusively with nuclear-related matters. The DNEB is co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary and Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and enables them to oversee and assure the delivery of the Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD) and the Defence Nuclear Enterprise that sustains it on behalf of the Defence Board.

The DNEB monitors strategic risk and holds to account those responsible for delivering the key elements of Defence Task 4. It oversees cross-Whitehall engagement on strategic nuclear related issues especially with reference to the Nuclear Deterrence Policy Committee, and acts as a point of escalation when lower-level decision-making is unable to reach conclusions. The DNEB also appoints the UK Principal for the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement and 1963 Polaris Sales Agreement; and ensures coherence in nuclear-related business across Defence.

Transformation Board

The role of the Transformation Board is to support and enable the MOD’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) to direct Transformation activity to maximise delivery against MOD’s efficiency targets.

A sub-committee of the Executive Committee, the Transformation Board governs the scope of pan-Defence transformation activities across six cross-cutting transformation sub-portfolios relating to Operate, People, Empowerment, Digital, Support and Acquisition.

Strategy Development Group

The Strategy Development Group (SDG) is the forum in which the Permanent Secretary and Chief of the Defence Staff shape the Department’s approach to issues of strategic importance for Defence and develop advice to the Secretary of State on these matters.

The SDG supports the formulation of advice and decision making on the long term and cross-cutting aspects of policy areas where its members hold responsibility. The SDG formally reports to the Executive Committee and escalates any issues to it for resolution.

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee supports the financial management of Defence business and helps set the direction for the policies and processes that drive forward improvements in financial management across MOD.

The Finance Committee is the key forum for Finance Directors and senior Head Office finance staff to come together to collectively discuss and reach agreement on finance and accounting policies and processes that drive forward improvements in financial management across the MOD. The Finance Committee undertakes the strategic financial management and financial control in the Department including reviewing and agreeing the regular in year forecast and Annual Budget Cycle process.

It provides oversight: of the production and review of the financial statements; Defence Internal Audit Programme impact on finance processes and function; and the work of the National Audit Office (Value for Money Programme and the financial statements). The Finance Committee is part of the core governance structure of the Department reporting regularly to Executive Committee (ExCo) and the Defence Board.

MOD annual reports and accounts

MOD annual reports and accounts