Permanent Secretary

Bernadette Kelly CB


Bernadette Kelly became Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport on 18 April 2017.

Bernadette Kelly was Director General, Rail Group, Department for Transport from September 2015 to April 2017. From September 2013 Bernadette was Director General, Business and Local Growth. Prior to that she was Director General, Fair Markets in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Bernadette joined the Civil Service after graduating. She has spent most of her career working on public policy in relation to business and the economy. She has led work in government to strengthen the regulation of utility sectors; reform the planning regime in the UK; increase housing supply; and control public sector pay and expenditure.

While Bernadette has worked principally in BIS and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), she has also worked at HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, and in the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit; as well as on secondment to ICI plc. From 2000 to 2002 she was Director of Corporate Law and Governance in DTI where she led work to strengthen company law and corporate governance.

Bernadette was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2010.

Permanent Secretary

Responsible for the overall management of the department. The Permanent Secretary sits on the department’s board

The role of the department’s board is to:

  • ensure effective governance and properly manage risks
  • shape and direct a shared agenda for the department as a whole, both to deliver ministers’ priorities and to build capability
  • monitor performance and risk, making choices (or recommendations to ministers) on priorities/risk appetite

Previous roles in government

  1. Director General Rail Group

    • 2015 to 2017
  2. Director General, Business and Local Growth, BIS

    • 2010 to 2015