Luther Pendragon partner Mike Granatt said: ‘He faces multiple challenges. First, there will be pressure on civil service communicators to present the Government’s achievements and ambitions, and he will have to safeguard the boundaries of propriety.
‘Second, at this point in the electoral cycle, the Central Office of Information always faces huge demands for government advertising and is under great scrutiny from the opposition.’
Granatt added that Tee would also have to deal with the problem of sustaining professionalism within government comms, which some feel has been diminished.
‘Dealing with this will require considerable and visible leadership in a role that is blessed with lots of status, but rather less real authority and resources,’ said Granatt.
Tee’s CV is rare in Whitehall’s higher echelons, bec-ause he has seen top-level action in both policy and
comms; the former in his last role as chief executive of NHS Direct and the latter while standing in for Sian Jarvis as director of comms at the Department of Health.
Portland PR associate partner Martin Sheehan – previously head of strategic comms at Number 10 – worked with Tee at the former Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) and subsequently at Number 10. He said: ‘Matt will be a popular choice across Whitehall. He is extremely able and well-liked. That policy background will have been a plus point for him. It is the trend in Whitehall and he does both policy and comms well.’
Former Foreign and Commonwealth Office director of comms Lucian Hudson agreed: ‘It sends a powerful signal that doing comms well in Whitehall is recognised, but equally the challenge is to better engage with the citizen and show how communications supports effective delivery of big policy priorities.’
He added: ‘The combination of experience in the two areas has made Tee well-equipped to show the rest of government how comms needs to be built into policy. It carries on from what [former incumbent] Howell James achieved to integrate policy and comms throughout the delivery process.’
Matt Tee’s CV
2008 Appointed permanent secretary for government comms
2007 Chief executive, NHS Direct
2006 Interim director of comms, Department of Health
2004 Director of business development, Dr Foster
2000 Head of comms, Commission for Health Improvement
1999 Director of news, Department of Trade and Industry
1995 Head of comms, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital
4 Candidates on shortlist for permanent secretary job
373 Total number of press officers in Whitehall
£168k Salary paid to Howell James as permanent secretary
20 Government departments to be overseen by Tee
44 Age of Matt Tee