Government creates perm sec-level role to lead Whitehall digital and IT

Written by Sam Trendall on 23 September 2019 in News
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Precise scope of new £180k GCDIO role is unclear, as is relationship with head of GDS

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A new permanent secretary-level role of government chief digital and information officer (GCDIO) has been created to lead the digital, data and technology function across the civil service.

The Cabinet Office-based position comes with a salary of £180,000 a year and a position at the head of the 17,000-strong DDaT profession across government. 

The postholder, who will report to civil service chief executive John Manzoni, will also have “direct accountability for approximately 800 DDaT professionals in the Government Digital Service”.

The role comes with a remit to act as “the official representative for Her Majesty’s Government on DDaT issues, including internationally”. 


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The candidate pack said: “You will be responsible for shaping and delivering HMG’s innovation and transformation strategies to overhaul government’s legacy IT systems, strengthen our cybersecurity, improve capability, and ensure government can better leverage data and emerging technologies to design and deliver citizen-centric services that enhance HMG’s reputation as the world’s most digitally-advanced government.”

It is not entirely clear how the GCDIO will work with the director general of GDS – a position currently held on an interim basis by Alison Pritchard – nor even if the two roles will co-exist. Until now, the role as head of GDS has served as head of Whitehall’s DDaT function.

In a statement issued to PublicTechnology, a Cabinet Office spokesperson indicated that the chosen applicant would have the chance to help define the scope and focus of the role.

"This new role of GCDIO will be a second permanent secretary, who will oversee the digital, data and technology (DDaT) function across government. The GCDIO will have the opportunity to shape this role, supported by cross-government digital leaders."

Speaking to journalists at GDS’s annual Sprint event in London last week, Pritchard said there was “no simple answer” to the question of whether or not the GCDIO would, effectively, replace her role. The creation of the GCDIO position is a “reflection that this is a more senior post with a scope across the function”, she said.

“We need to give this person the opportunity to work out how they want to be supported in that more senior role and I am doing some thinking around how best to provide some options,” Pritchard added. “And I am an interim so, actually, whatever we do we can seamlessly transition into the new arrangement.”

Applications for the GCDIO job are open until 9am on 7 October, after which the Cabinet Office will create a longlist and then a shortlist. Candidate assessments will take place during the two-week period beginning on 11 November, with final interviews scheduled for 29 November.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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