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William Jordan, Executive Director, Chief Sustainability and Operating Officer, Change Programme SRO, ERG, Cabinet Office
William previously worked as the Chief Operating Officer at the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) before the Cabinet Office took responsibility of the OGC, June 2010. He took the lead on three key areas of OGC’s work: leadership of the Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement (CESP), leadership of Markets and Collaborative Procurement (MCP) and leadership of the Government Estates Transformation (GET) agenda. William’s role was to lead the delivery of each of these agenda's and to ensure the integration of sustainability into OGC’s work on both the estate and in procurement.
A large number of experts were already looking at sustainability in different ways and William felt an important part of CESP’s role was to bring together these communities across Whitehall. Bodies like the Carbon Trust, the Sustainable Development Commission, the Energy Savings Trust, Wrap, and Waterwise, all focused on different aspects of sustainability. The Environmental Practitioners across Whitehall, the Commercial Directors, and the Estates Champions and Managers were three other communities also focussed on sustainability, and CESP aimed to bring all of these stakeholder groups together to forge a common vision for the future. The role of CESP was to produce guidance on sustainable procurement and share best practice from procurement practitioners working at the cutting edge of this field. "It’s about drawing up a big picture, a vision of the way forward that says, ‘we will achieve sustainability within a value for money context,’" said William at the time.
The Markets and Collaborative Procurement Division made savings in four main ways:
Identifying ways to work together and buy goods and services more effectively was a lively enough agenda and became even more exciting when the challenges of sustainable procurement were factored in. As well as saving money, buying more intelligently can do a lot to improve sustainability. "Demand management is often very closely linked to the sustainability agenda on things like energy and fleet," explained William. "And we have got a database that enables you to track what the carbon emission levels are of the vehicles are being purchased under the deals that we have collaboratively available." This saves money, is a more efficient use of resources and results in a fleet of vehicles which has less impact on the environment.
The Estates agenda focused on the large number of buildings and the land which government owned and finding ways to make savings in the running of this civil estate. These included:
There were good examples of how efficiency and sustainability could come together on the civil estate at that time. "There are brilliant new buildings that the government has been engaged in designing; Defra has a new building in Alnwick, Northumberland, and the Home Office has one in Sheffield, both of which are profiled in the State of the Estate report."
"I am very strongly committed to this agenda," said William, "as are all civil servants I speak to. It’s an agenda that we all know needs to be addressed globally and we are very keen to show the way, so I think it’s very easy to get out of bed in the morning and feel enthusiastic about what I’m doing in the course of the day."
William Jordan joined the civil service in 1991. His civil service postings have ranged across strategy, delivery and change management. In DWP, William worked on pension issues, helped to deliver the first tax credit and he also served as Programme Manager of a major change programme. His first posting involved managing the relationship between the policy group within the department, and the executive agencies and the delivery functions, and he was impressed to see the positive changes that could be effected, in this case for benefits claimants, up and down the land. "What I learned in that first posting I have reflected on periodically in my career ever since," he says. Roles in the Treasury and Cabinet Office followed, and William was a founder member and Deputy Director of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU).
It’s a far cry from the years he spent prior to the civil service, as William puts it, "exploring what the academic world had to offer and what (he) had to offer the academic world," although he does see some parallels. He spent 15 years researching and teaching both modern and Ancient Greek philosophy at Cambridge and Oxford; an experience he enjoyed tremendously. However, he says, "two things struck me immediately [on joining the civil service] as a wonderful improvement on the life of an academic: the first was that I was always working with other people in teams and not sitting by myself in a library. The second big difference was the fast pace and focus on results - I couldn’t just sit in a library until I had a truly world class product; I still had to produce excellent results and now it was to brief ministers within a few days." He’s enjoyed those aspects of his career in the civil service ever since.