Move on from CDO model, says DVLA chief

Oliver Morley, chief executive officer of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, has urged organisations to move away from having chief digital officers.

Morley says all leaders need to have digital on their minds – Photo credit: DVLA

Speaking at a recent event held in London, Morley said that he was “not a big fan” of the chief digital officer model.

“I believe a chief executive officer should understand an take digital forwards; I don’t think the chief digital officer should be separate,” he said.

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“You need to make it work out of your core business or you’ll be hybrid forever,” Morley said. “If you’re in it now, you should move on from it.”

Morley, who has been driving the agency’s shift to digital since 2013, was speaking as part of a panel discussion about how to harness the power of digital at the Public Sector Show this week.

The speakers discussed the challenges to embracing digital in government, with a major focus being that technology alone should be seen as a means to and end, rather than an outcome.

“Digital by default is a convenient mantra,” said Mark Thompson, lecturer in information systems at Cambridge Judge Business School. “The question we all ask is about intelligent public services and that may or may not require digital by default.”

Louise Downe, head of design for UK government at the Government Digital Service, agreed, saying that the public sector needed to realise digital isn’t necessarily the solution.

“We can work in a way enabled by the internet and data, but that alone won’t improve public services,” she said. “On its own, it’s not a fix.”

Downe added that it was important for there to be more collaboration across both central and local government, as well as thinking longer-term.

“We often shy away from thinking about what we should be doing in the future because we can’t get there, but it’s a vicious circle. If we don’t think about it, we’ll never get there.”


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