GDS ministerial brief still awaiting sign-off

Two weeks on from reshuffle and responsibilities remain yet to be officially confirmed

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More than two weeks on from the cabinet reshuffle, the ministerial portfolio containing responsibility for the Government Digital Service, Crown Commercial Service, and other centralised functions is still yet to be officially assigned.

Since January 2018, the work of the two Cabinet Office agencies has been overseen by Oliver Dowden. The Hertsmere MP held the post of minister for implementation until last month’s government reshuffle, when he was promoted to the role of minister for the Cabinet Office, replacing David Lidington.

In his new role at the head of the Cabinet Office, he retains ultimate stewardship of the organisations and programmes that formed his previous portfolio – which, in addition to GDS and CCS, also included a long list of other duties. Since Dowden assumed the role last year, the minister for implementation brief has included: efficiency and controls; cyber and resilience; Single Departmental Plans; the Infrastructure and Projects Authority; Civil Service HR, trade unions, and pensions; government property; shared services; and public appointments.

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As part of the reshuffle last month, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Simon Hart was given a junior ministerial post as a parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office. He is yet to be officially assigned a portfolio of duties, but PublicTechnology understands that, at some point in the coming days, he is likely to be given a similar brief to that held by Dowden for the past 19 months.

In the meantime, the Cabinet Office indicated that Dowden has oversight of GDS and other functions of the central department. Clarity on any remaining ministerial portfolios will be provided in due course.

PublicTechnology had contacted Hart but was yet to receive a response at time of going to press.

If he is given ministerial responsibility for GDS, he will be the sixth person to hold the brief in the space of little more than three years. The work of the digital agency formerly sat within the portfolio of Cabinet Office ministers Matt Hancock, Ben Gummer, and Damian Green. Since 2017, GDS has formed part of a junior ministerial brief, and has been overseen by, first, Caroline Nokes and then Dowden.


Sam Trendall

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