Former DWP head Devereux approved for public sector role at Salesforce

Written by Sam Trendall on 25 September 2019 in News
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After retiring from permanent secretary post last year, ex-civil servant is to take global strategy role at cloud firm

Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Former Department for Work and Pensions permanent secretary Sir Robert Devereux has been approved to take on a role as vice president of global public sector strategy at cloud computing giant Salesforce.

After seven years at the head of DWP, Devereux (pictured above) retired from the civil service in January 2018. Having been approached about the Salesforce position by a former Whitehall colleague – who worked in the department’s IT function until 2015 – Devereux recently sought approval to accept the job from the government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).

The committee has approved the ex-perm sec to take the Salesforce job, subject to three conditions. The first is that, in his new post Devereux should not “draw on… any privileged information available to him from his time in Crown service”. 

Until January 2020 – which marks two years since his departure from the civil service – he is also prohibited from lobbying the government on Salesforce’s behalf or calling on contacts from his government career to try and “influence policy or secure business” for the cloud company.


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The final condition is that Devereux must not work on any of Salesforce’s government contracts or bids for upcoming projects.

The committee reported that the ex-DWP chief said he expects his duties during his first year in his new position to “largely be a mix of thought leadership and strategy”. He “does not expect his role to involve any contact or dealings with his former department of government more generally”, according to ACOBA.

“He will be drawing on his knowledge of government’s general concerns for value for money and more for less in helping Salesforce think through and demonstrate the strengths of its product and its likely appeal within the public sectors, both in the UK and the rest of the world,” the committee said.

The position as public sector strategy VP is a part-time one, with a workload equating to two days per week. Although Devereux was directly approached about the role, he indicated it had been advertised and that he had gone through an application process.

Based in San Francisco, Salesforce is perhaps best known for its cloud-based customer relationship management software. Since being founded 20 years ago, it has grown into one of the world’s biggest technology vendors, posting sales of $13.3bn in its 2019 fiscal year.

According to the committee’s letter, among Salesforce’s many UK public sector engagements are two active contracts with the DWP: a £70,800 three-year support deal for the department’s PensionWise service signed in 2017; and a 24-month £5m contract that began in January 2019 and covers the provision of MuleSoft integration software.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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