Permanent Secretary

Dame Bernadette Kelly DCB


Bernadette Kelly became Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport on 18 April 2017.

From September 2015 to April 2017, Bernadette Kelly was Director General, Rail Group in DfT. Prior to that she was a Director General at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) from April 2010.

Bernadette joined the Civil Service after graduating. She has spent most of her career working on public policy in relation to business and the economy. She has led work in government to reform the planning regime for major infrastructure; boost housing supply; establish the Competition and Markets Authority; strengthen utility regulation; reform corporate governance; and on industrial strategy and local growth and devolution.

In addition to DfT and BIS, Bernadette has worked in the Department for Communities and Local Government, HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit; as well as on secondment to ICI plc.

Bernadette was awarded a Damehood (DCB) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2022. Prior, Bernadette was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2010.

Permanent Secretary

Responsible for the overall management of the department. The Permanent Secretary sits on the department’s board

The role of the department’s board is to:

  • ensure effective governance and properly manage risks
  • shape and direct a shared agenda for the department as a whole, both to deliver ministers’ priorities and to build capability
  • monitor performance and risk, making choices (or recommendations to ministers) on priorities/risk appetite

Department for Transport and Civil Service Board

Previous roles in government

  • Director General Rail Group
  • Director General, Business and Local Growth, BIS