Category Officer

National £29,179 - £32,160 London £32,557 - £35,888
04 Mar 2021
04 Apr 2021
Specialist Area
Contract Type
Full Time
CIPS Membership
CIPS member, Non CIPS member

About Defra

Defra is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy.

DEFRA comprises of the Core Department, Environment Agency, Food Standards Agency, Rural Payments Agency, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, Forestry Commission, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Natural England and Veterinary Medicines Directorate to name a few.

Their broad remit means they play a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.

Why join Defra?

This is a particularly exciting time to join the Defra group. They are leading on much of the government’s work to protect the public such as flooding, enhance science capability, improvement of the environment and aiding in a successful transition from the EU.

Defra group Commercial have also been instrumental and helping the Government to respond to COVID by setting up contracts for “food boxes” for the vulnerable. 

You will have the opportunity to contribute towards and influence the development of new approaches and policies on a wide range of issues affecting millions of people in the UK.

What You Will Be Doing:

  • Leading the award and monitoring medium value/risk contracts in accordance with Defra’s commercial policies and procedures, whilst applying the full Commercial DNA. 
  • Support the management and development of key supplier relationships to deliver exceptional performance in cost, service and quality.
  • Build and sustain effective relationships with category customers.
  • Provide day to day advice on commercial issues and governance across the relevant category, taking full account of risk, exploiting commercial opportunities and maximising value of money and savings.

Benefits of the Role:

  • Flexible working to allow for variations in your hours from day to day, suiting your needs, and where this is compatible with business needs. There is further scope to work from home, compressed hours and more.
  • An amazing Pension Scheme- Defra will make an employer contribution of between 26.6% and 27.9% dependent on your pensionable salary.
  • Volunteering  Each year you will be entitled to three 3 days special leave with pay to volunteer.
  • Staff  Bonuses and Recognitions- Staff Recognition Scheme, and in-year awards to reward exemplary work.
  • Growth and Development- Civil Servants are encouraged to have a minimum of five days of learning and development each year.  You will have access to Government Commercial College resources
  • Mentoring and Coaching: You will have the opportunity to voluntarily engage and work confidentially with a mentor or coach
  • Immense  job satisfaction – This role will make a genuine positive impact of your community. The team are very supportive and friendly.


Required Skills and Experience

Experience- Essential

  • Leading and implementing medium sized (£50k - £500k) procurements projects through the end-to-end lifecycle – design (strategy and market engagement), procure and contract award.
  • Builds relationships and has experience of influencing stakeholders in a commercial environment.
  • Identifies business needs and manages procurement pipelines.
  • Provides advice and support on specification development, basic procurement strategies and pricing models, planning and implementation of procurement plans.
  • Experience of leading contract award negotiations and resolving dispute resolutions through negotiation.
  • Identifying opportunities for efficiency gains and sustainability benefits and delivering significant savings.

Experience- Desirable

  • Knowledge of Public Procurement Regulations (PCR 2015)
  • Knowledge or experience of NEC/JCT/PSC suite of contracts and contract development
  • Knowledge of the category and advantage but not essential if demonstrating transferable skills
  • Grants roles - knowledge or experience of Government Functional Standards and best practice grants tools.

Technical – Essential

  • Knowledge of commercial related legislation, procurement policy, processes and documentation to deliver successful contracts and frameworks.
  • Experience in leading and implementing medium sized (£50k - £500k) procurements projects through the end-to-end lifecycle – design (strategy and market engagement), procure and contract award.  
  • Good understanding of market analysis, pre-qualification and supplier vetting processes.
  • Knowledge of procurement tools and basic risk logs
  • Proficient in the use of Excel, Data analysis, collation, cleansing and presentation and reporting.
  • Expert in the use of E-sourcing tools and a good awareness of procure to pay systems.
  • Awareness and application of simple performance measures and KPI's.
  • Organised and logical approach to dealing with problems, setting clear actions and roles & responsibilities and monitoring progress

Technical – Desirable

  • Qualified to Level 4 CIPS or working towards Level 4 CIPS, IACCM/GCF Contract Management (Foundation) would be beneficial.
  • Other academic or professional qualifications, such as degree or Prince2.
  • Those that have yet to achieve one of more of the above qualifications will be expected to work to achieve these through structured development plans.
  • Alternatively you can demonstrate at least 2 years’ experience in providing commercial support across the commercial life cycle i.e. market/supplier engagement, procurement strategies, tendering and contract management.

The behaviours that will be tested at interview: 

  • Making effective decisions
  • Working together
  • Changing and improving
  • Communicating and influencing- This will be the lead behaviour tested at first interview. 


Guaranteed Interview Scheme for Disabled Persons

Disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria in the job specification are guaranteed an interview. Selection will be on merit. If you wish to claim a guaranteed interview under the Disability Commitment, you should complete the Equality and Diversity section that forms part of the advert. (Annex C). It is not necessary to state the nature of your disability.

Equal Opportunities

Defra values equality and diversity in employment. We are committed to being an organisation in which fairness and equality of opportunity is central to the approach in business and working relationships and where the organisational culture reflects and supports these values. In Defra you have the right to a working environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation regardless of race, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, sex, gender identity, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, working hours, trade union membership or trade union activity.

Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles

Selection for appointment to the Civil Service is on merit, on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. The Civil Service Commission has two primary functions:

Providing assurance that selection for appointment to the Civil Service is on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. 

Hearing and determining appeals made by Civil Servants under the Civil Service Code which sets out the Civil Service values – Honesty, Integrity, Impartiality and Objectivity.

More detailed information can be found at the Civil Service Commission website