BEIS boss set to take on perm sec role at new tech and innovation department

Written by Beckie Smith and Sam Trendall on 9 February 2023 in News

Sarah Munby takes on top job at newly formed agency

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0 

Sarah Munby, the permanent secretary at the soon-to-be-defunct Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will lead the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

The new Whitehall agency – which seems likely to be referred to as DSIT – will encompass some policy areas that formerly sat within BEIS, alongside the ‘digital’ part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is being streamlined to a culture-specific brief.

This means that key tech and digital programmes, such as the Online Safety Bill and digital identities, are set to be taken on by DSIT – which will also be the new home to the government chief scientific adviser.

DCMS’s permanent secretary, Sarah Healey, has now taken on the same role at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. She replaces Jeremy Pocklington, who will serve as the top civil servant at another newly created agency: the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

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The new-look Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, meanwhile, will be jointly led by two senior officials – Ruth Hannant and Polly Payne – while it seeks to recruit a new chief to replace Healey.

Gareth Davies will serve as permanent secretary at the other new department created this week by prime minister’s Rishi Sunak’s Whitehall shake-up: the Department for Business and Trade. This agency includes portions of BEIS, as well as the incorporating the now-defunct Department for International Trade – where Davies previously heled the top job.

In her final act as leader of BEIS, Munby wrote to officials across the department to reassure them that “there will be a job for everyone” in the three ministries that are to collectively replace it.

“There will be plenty of support available as we navigate these changes. I’d ask you to bear with us, me, your line manager, as we won’t have all the answers up front,” she said, in a memo exclusively reported by PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World. “But what I do know is that no one needs to be concerned about their job and there will be more than enough room for everyone in this change.”

Munby’s message added that, for the “vast majority of people, the team around you will look pretty much the same”, while a “very small number” of teams will not move with their director general group to their new department. All of these teams will by now have been made aware of the changes, she said.


About the author

Beckie Smith is deputy editor for PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, where a version of this story first appeared. She tweets as @beckie__smith.

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