Scottish government offers £92,500 for CDO to oversee benefits devolution

The Scottish government is advertising for a chief digital officer for social security for the second time this year as it gains control of benefit systems.

The Scottish government is recruiting a CDO to run digtial social services – Photo credit: Flickr, Alasdair Mckenzie

The role, which the government said would require “strong strategic leadership”, advocacy and technical knowledge, was previously advertised in May.

However, the latest advert, which has a closing date of 31 October, shows the government has bumped up the salary from £80,000 to £92,500.

The role, which will report into social security director Stephen Kerr, has been created to deal with the increased workload following the devolution of control over £2.7bn of social security benefits from the UK government.

“This is set to be a high-profile and exciting policy area, with continuing political, public and media interest,” Kerr said. “This is a chance for you to play a leading role in one of the biggest programmes of change and transformation which the Scottish Government has ever undertaken.”

The new recruit, Kerr said, should be enthusiastic, “resilient”, with good judgement and political awareness and “welcome scrutiny processes”.

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The Scottish government is creating a new agency to oversee the devolution of the benefits, which the job description said would require new operational capacity supported by robust IT.

However, Kerr said that the main priority initially would be ensuring safe and secure transition from the UK government to its Scottish counterpart, which will likely require the development of new systems.

Eleven benefits systems are being devolved and the Scottish government noted that they rely on a variety of legacy systems within the Department for Work and Pensions.

The DWP is undergoing its own major transformation, with the creation of the heavily delayed and controversial Universal Credit system, whose early years have been riddled with problems ranging from poor planning to an inability to embrace agile working.

It was reset in 2013, and a recent report from the Institute for Government concluded that something “that is recognisable as Universal Credit” is likely to emerge at the other end.

Although the Scottish government does not mention Universal Credit in the job description, it does say that the transformational programme at DWP could have an affect on the devolution of the benefits systems, and that the new CDO will need to work closely with the DWP. It also said that it would be desirable for the CDO to be familiar with DWP IT systems and processes.

The government emphasises the complexity of the task a number of times, calling for applicants to have “significant and wide ranging experience” in “large, complex customer facing organisation” and a track record of success in delivering complex, high-profile, user-focused digital services.

Further requirements are for the benefits systems to make “sensible use” of data across different public services to ensure people get the right support.

In addition, they will have to build and maintain good relationships with partners and stakeholders across both the Scottish and UK governments, including the DWP.

They should also have – or be ready to develop – a good understanding of the current and future landscape for digital public services in Scotland, and be ready to make the best use of existing an emerging technologies.

A Scottish government person did not immediately respond to further questions about the outcome of the recruitment process earlier in 2016. 


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