I arrive at the Home Office at 9 o’clock ready for another exciting day of work! I always make sure to grab a cup of coffee on my way in because mornings are busy. I have been working at the Home Office for a year now in the Contract Assurance team (itself part of the Financial Planning Unit). This means I am a financial specialist assisting my colleagues in Home Office Commercial with the contract management and procurement processes. My work is therefore varied and so there is no one ‘typical day’ in my work life – I think that that is a good thing!
A big chunk of what I do is managing supplier audits. Big government contracts can be quite complicated (e.g. running a prison) and so financial specialists are required to audit these contracts to ensure we are being charged accurately and fairly for the services provided. On some days I will be at our suppliers’ offices (which tend to be located on dingy business parks in the middle of nowhere!) but most days I am in the relative safety of Westminster! When I am not out collecting audit evidence, I will be trawling through spreadsheets and financial models, chatting with the supplier’s finance team on the phone, and generally trying to figure out how the supplier has accounted for what we are being asked to pay. The most exciting part is when we disagree with the supplier and think that we should pay less!
The other big part of what I do is supporting procurement activity. This can mean anything from building the financial models upon which the contract will be priced, providing financial due diligence on potential suppliers, and also helping take commercial decisions as part of my role on the Commercial Approvals Board. There always seems to be a hundred procurements going on at the same time – which I guess is a good thing? The first thing you learn running government procurements is that you are a very long way from the perfect markets you might see if you are lucky enough to own an economic textbook! Invariably we want the market to manage some service or build us some piece of technology – it may take suppliers a few months to build and price a bid, and a similar amount of time for us to understand and compare it the other contract bids. This means I always have plenty to do!
I hope that gave you a taste of life in the finance fast stream! If any of that sounded interesting to you, I strongly encourage you to apply! Good luck!