Permanent Under Secretary

Jon Thompson


Jon was appointed Permanent Secretary of the MOD in September 2012 after more than 3 years as the Director General of Finance.

The Permanent Secretary is the Head of the Civil Service in the department and carries responsibility for the strategy, performance, reform, organisation and the finances of the MOD. The role works closely with the Chief of the Defence Staff in leading the organisation and supporting ministers in the conduct of business in the department across the full range of responsibilities.

As Permanent Secretary Jon chairs a wide range of organisational boards and groups and is a member of the Defence Board and Defence Council.

Previously Jon was the Director General (DG) Finance, the primary adviser to ministers, the Permanent Secretary and the board on MOD’s financial position and financial management in general. The Finance Directorate includes statistics, economics and analytics, as well as financial management, systems, internal audit and financial services. In his time as DG Finance Jon led the work to support ministers in finally concluding on a balanced defence budget in 2012. Jon also led the Corporate Services Transformation Project to reform and streamline all back office corporate services, including the signing of an innovative partnership contract with Serco/Accenture to deliver the change programme.

Whilst DG Finance, Jon was also the Head of the Government Finance Profession at the HM Treasury for three years, until April 2011 where he led the accountancy community across government.

Prior to joining the MOD in January 2009 Jon was DG Corporate Services at the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), a role covering all the corporate services including finance, procurement, estates, IT, human resources and strategy. Over a three year period he led the work on the Spending Review 2007, the creation of the DCSF and the corporate services transformation programme.

Prior to joining the civil service in 2004 Jon had a mixed public private sector career working for Norfolk County Council, Eagle Star and then Ernst & Young to manage public services consultancy and audit services for the south west. From 1997 to 2004 Jon held a range of senior finance posts at North Somerset Council (a unitary local authority) as the statutory chief financial officer, becoming the Director of Finance and Resources for the council. In 2004 Jon joined Ofsted as its first ever Finance Director to drive up standards of financial management and corporate governance through a period of significant organisational change.

Jon is a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA) and is married to Dawn. They have three sons and live in Cambridgeshire.

Permanent Under Secretary

The Permanent Under Secretary (PUS) is the government’s principal civilian adviser on defence, has primary responsibility for policy, finance and planning, and is the Departmental Accounting Officer. He or she reports to the Head of the Civil Service and is a member of the Defence Council, and the Defence Board. He or she co-chairs, with CDS, the Defence Strategy Group.


The PUS’s responsibilities include:

  • leading defence (with Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS))
  • setting strategy for defence, including corporate strategy (subject to ministers’ direction, and together with CDS)
  • heading the Department of State and the MOD Civil Service
  • providing policy advice to ministers and leading the relationship with other government departments;
  • the overall organisation, management and staffing of defence
  • performing the full range of Accounting Officer responsibilities, including the delegation of financial and other authority and accountability to senior colleagues, with personal accountability to Parliament for the economic, efficient and effective use of defence resources

Previous roles in government

  1. Non-Executive Director, Crown Commercial Service (CCS)

    • 2014 to 2015