Interim GDS chief says Brexit, data analytics, digital identity and innovation are priorities

Written by Sooraj Shah on 2 September 2019 in News
News

Alison Pritchard outlines her credentials as director general of GDS 

Credit: Derwent London

Alison Pritchard, who was hired to head up the Government Digital Services (GDS) on an interim basis in August, has outlined her priorities for the department in a blogpost. 

Pritchard stepped in to fill the void of director general Kevin Cunnington, who opted to leave the role after three years to become the director general of the newly formed International Government Service (IGS), a joint initiative between the Foreign Office, Cabinet Office and the Department for International Trade.

While it remains unclear how long Pritchard will be in charge as GDS seeks a full-time Director General, she has explained her immediate focuses, as well as detailed her background in a GDS blog

She said that it was a huge part of GDS’s current efforts to be working on the EU exit. However, despite being in the role for the interim, she was looking beyond the present.

“We also need to build our future, setting the boldest goals for digital advancement across government, a big push on data analytics, digital identity and embedding of innovation. To do that, we need the right resource, capability powers and influence,” she said. 

It is worth noting that there have been question marks over the resources and influence that GDS has, with suggestions that their resources are becoming more limited and that influence is diminishing. 

Pritchard’s background

Pritchard explained that her first job was at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as a systems analyst and systems designer, where she coded the system that managed the location of military assets, before moving on to another division of MoD which focused on implementing digital solutions. 

She then worked in the Equalities Office during the implementation of legislation to allow same sex couples to marry, and then worked in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) leading transformation; HM Treasury handling efficiency; the Cabinet Office addressing air travel for the Prime Minister; and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on gambling policy. 

Outside government, she has been head of operations for an IT engineering business and went on secondment to the charitable sector as director of programmes for a multi-faith research body. 

Her vast experience, and range of roles, should stand her in good stead for her big role at GDS, which she said she accepted immediately. 

“[I] received an email that read something along the lines of 'would you like to lead GDS for a period of time?'. My response was immediate and resounding. Absolutely yes,” she says. 

She had been chief operating officer at GDS since August 2017, and is now in a dual role with her interim director general position. 

She said she has a duty to help land permanent leadership of GDS in a way that ensures the department does not miss a beat, and that enables it to springboard into the future state for digital government.

 

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