Government mulls post-Maxwell options as national tech advisor confirmed for October departure

Discussions underway for whether and how departing tech leader will be replaced after he leaves civil service in two months’ time

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The government is considering its options for whether and how to replace the outgoing UK national technology advisor, PublicTechnology understands, with Liam Maxwell confirmed to be departing the civil service in October.

It emerged earlier this week that Maxwell is to leave Whitehall and take a job at cloud-hosting giant Amazon Web Services. The move will have been subject to an approval process by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as well ass, in all likelihood, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments – a non-departmental body sponsored by the Cabinet Office that rules on very senior civil servants and government ministers taking commercial posts.

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Such moves are typically approved subject to conditions; a common imposition is a two-year embargo on lobbying or involvement in any commercial discussions between the government and the person’s new employer. 

Details of any conditions imposed on Maxwell’s acceptance of the Amazon job will be published in due course, but it is now understood that the duties of his new post will not primarily relate to the UK market. Government sources also claim that the departure adhered to the strict guidelines and processes that apply to all civil servants, with details of the approval process to be released as part of DCMS’s next quarterly transparency update.

It is also understood that discussions are underway in Whitehall about how best to fulfil Maxwell’s duties after he departs in October. He is the first person to fill the role of national technology advisor, a post that was created for him in 2016.

There is no decision yet on whether he will be replaced directly, if his duties will be spread across other roles, or if an entirely new post will be created in his wake.

Sam Trendall

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