Philip Barton, the appointed permanent undersecretary of the new Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Photo by: Foreign and Commonwealth Office / Flickr / CC BY

LONDON — The interim leadership team of the new Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has been announced, less than two weeks before the department is set to start work.

Philip Barton, who was FCDO’s first major appointment earlier this month as permanent undersecretary — the department’s top civil servant — sent an email to staff members announcing the names of its new directors general.

Who is Philip Barton, new permanent undersecretary to FCDO?

The role is seen as a key appointment in the merger of DFID and FCO, and Barton will need to navigate various challenges.

They will serve for an initial six months after the department opens its doors on Sept. 1, “to ensure that we have a diverse Board in place from day one,” Barton wrote.

He also announced a political director, who has been appointed on a permanent basis.

The appointees “will form the core of the new Management Board, together with Non-Executive Directors (who are being recruited at the moment) and will also be on the Executive Committee,” Barton added.

The senior appointments are:

• Tim Barrow, political director. He is currently U.K. ambassador to the EU.
• Juliet Chua, director general, finance and corporate. She is currently director general, finance and corporate performance, Department for International Development.
• Tom Drew, director general, MENA, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is currently director general, consular and security, Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
• Moazzam Malik, director general, Africa. He is currently director general, country Programs, DFID.
• Vijay Rangarajan, director general, Americas and overseas territories. He is currently ambassador to Brazil.
• Jenny Bates, director general, Indo-Pacific. She is currently director general, Europe, FCO.
• Kumar Iyer, director general, delivery. He is currently director general in the prime minister's COVID-19 task force.

“I believe that this is a very strong team,” Barton wrote. “I hope these appointments will send an important signal about our ambition for the FCDO, our determination to integrate diplomacy and development in a transformational way and our desire to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of what we do.”

Simon McDonald, permanent undersecretary at FCO, noted on Twitter that three of the six directors general come from “BAME” — or Black, Asian, and minority ethnic — backgrounds.

However, only two of the seven names announced this week are women. And although Barton stressed that “Board members bring with them a range of experience from DFID, the FCO and wider Whitehall,” only two — Malik and Chua — are existing DFID officials.

A former senior aid official, who spoke to Devex on condition of anonymity, said it was hard to say what the final balance would look like at this early stage. In order to get an “overall sense of how it all looks, we need to know more about the other sort of key roles at that senior level ... overseas, and if some of those will go to current DFID people,” he said. He added that it would be important to learn “the overall mission statement [of the new department] and the extent to which development is at the center of that.”

There are some notable names missing from the list, including Nick Dyer, currently acting permanent secretary at DFID.

The organizational structure outlined in the email also differs slightly from the current setup at both DFID and FCO, where directors general are mostly organized along thematic rather than geographic lines.

FCDO 'risks operating for months without clear strategic direction'

A report from the U.K. Foreign Affairs Committee highlights the challenges of merging DFID with the FCO.

Barton said that “in terms of the organisational thinking, the five policy DGs lead geographic areas and specific themes.” For example, several key development themes, including climate change, health, education, and gender, come under Rangarajan’s portfolio, while issues including conflict and stabilization, human rights and good governance, and the CDC Group will be managed by Malik. Humanitarian and crisis management, as well as defense, migration, and national security, fall into Drew’s portfolio, according to the email.

The director general, delivery, is a new role that will be focused on “bringing together our research, evidence and quality assurance to ensure we hold ourselves to account for delivery of the Government’s international objectives,” according to Barton.

“We will bring together DFID and FCO policy and programmes, as well as accountability for delivery so that all of the new Department’s instruments can come together and make the biggest difference to delivery of our strategic objectives,” he added.

About the authors

  • Jessica Abrahams

    Jessica Abrahams is Devex's Deputy News Editor. Based in London, she works with Devex's team of correspondents and editors around the world, with a particular focus on Europe & Africa. She has previously worked as a writer, researcher and editor for Prospect magazine, The Telegraph and Bloomberg News, among other outlets. She holds graduate degrees in journalism from City University London and in international relations from Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals.
  • William Worley

    William Worley is the U.K. Correspondent for Devex, covering DFID and British aid. Previously, he reported on international affairs, policy, and development. He also worked as a reporter for the U.K. national press, including the Times, Guardian, Independent, and i Paper. His reportage has included work on the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, drought in Madagascar, the "migrant caravan" in Mexico, and Colombia’s peace process.