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Digital, data and technology (DDaT) senior leadership changes

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: GDS team

This is my first blog post for Government Digital Service (GDS) and I have a number of exciting developments that I want to share with you.

Right now the UK Civil Service faces some of its greatest challenges in a generation. As the country manages the coronavirus pandemic and prepares for EU Exit, we look ahead to the opportunities to innovate and build afresh.

The Civil Service Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) function will be integral to this work, both at the centre, and across departments and in agencies, as the Government has set an ambition to make UK Government digital services the best in the world, exceeding the benchmark set globally by the best public or private sector standards.

Firstly, I want to tell you the news that we are today beginning the recruitment of the Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) role at Permanent Secretary level.

The GCDO will be the professional head of HMG’s 18,000 strong DDaT profession, oversee GDS and lead the DDaT function. They will be responsible for shaping and delivering HMG’s innovation and transformation strategies to overhaul government’s legacy IT systems, strengthen our cyber security, improve capability, and ensure government can better leverage data and emerging technologies to design and deliver citizen-centric services that enhance HMG’s reputation as the world’s most digitally-advanced government.

That recruitment exercise starts today, 24 August 2020.

We sought out candidates for a similar role last autumn. Since taking up my post as Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service I have taken the opportunity to review the role and person specification, in order to reflect the government’s high ambitions for transforming digital services and use of data, and the key part this role will play in realising that ambition. We have also clarified the levers and support that the GCDO will be able to draw on to make a full success of it.

portrait of Alison Pritchard

Secondly, I can also tell you that the interim Director General at GDS, Alison Pritchard, has been successful in securing a new role at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Alison will begin her new role as Deputy National Statistician and Director General for Data Capability in October 2020.

The Director General for Data Capability at ONS will drive the transformation of data services available to analysts, decision-makers and the public, mobilising data held by departments and providing an authoritative and compelling public face for this agenda.

Alison will be responsible for leadership of all aspects of data capability at ONS. This will include the delivery of digital services including utilising data from across government and the private sector to enable the production of better statistics, the delivery of technical platforms which are efficient and resilient to support digital services and the transformation of business processes.

I am grateful to Alison for the direction and leadership she has provided to GDS over the last year. It has been a challenging 12 months during which GDS has performed a vital role at the centre of the Government’s preparations for EU Exit and the ongoing response to COVID-19 - under considerable scrutiny. Alison was an integral part of the team to secure investment in data programmes as part of the 2019 Budget, including the new Data Standards Authority, and we can look forward to collaborating with her further on this critical agenda.

Fiona Deans standing in he GDS office

I’ve invited Fiona Deans, the current Chief Operating Officer at GDS to take on the leadership role in the interim. Fiona was a founding employee of Arts Alliance Media (AAM), which was one of the companies that spearheaded digital transformation in cinema technology in the UK and overseas and I’m absolutely certain she will steer us well through the months ahead.

I will be writing again in the next few weeks with further detail on the process for recruiting a permanent successor.

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  1. Comment by Peter Dunn posted on

    How about getting to grips with government waste? We still see in the current climate departments and local government all with massive deficits spending money with ICT suppliers for Back office systems and ERP. Surely they could make the existing legacy applications extend their life until we really need to replace these systems. Recent examples FCO and Home Office Cloud ERP spending vast sums of money on back office systems when their legacy systems worked better and could be supported for over 60% less cost by third party support? How about saving money on ERP?

    • Replies to Peter Dunn>

      Comment by The GDS Team posted on

      Hi Peter,

      GDS and the Cabinet Office are working on a legacy programme to understand the extent of the legacy across government and how it can be dealt with. The Cabinet Office hopes to take advantage of the 2020 Spending Review to draw attention to the most urgent issues, and to encourage departments to adopt a long-term view to this challenge.

      The GDS Team