National technology advisor Liam Maxwell set to depart government for role at AWS
Sources indicate that one of the civil service’s most high-profile digital and technology specialists is to take a job in the commercial sector
Credit: Cabinet Office
The government’s national technology advisor Liam Maxwell is set to depart government and take a role with Amazon Web Services, PublicTechnology understands.
Maxwell (pictured above) has been a civil servant for seven years, having joined the Cabinet Office in 2011 as executive director of IT reform and deputy government chief information officer. Between 2012 and 2016, he was part of the Government Digital Service, and served as the government’s chief technology officer. Since 2016, Maxwell has been based primarily in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in his post as national technology advisor.
This was a post created for Maxwell, and it is not yet clear whether he will be directly replaced when he leaves the civil service – the date of which is also yet to be confirmed.
Civil servants moving to jobs outside government are subject to business appointment rules and, in many cases, must apply to their department for approval. Departments may then impose conditions, such as a ban on using privileged information gained during their civil-service career, or one- or two-year embargoes on lobbying the government or taking part in any commercial discussions or engagements between their new employer and the government.
- Liam Maxwell: ‘Transformation is nothing to do with tech – it is about a change of business model’
- D5 becomes D7 as Canada and Uruguay join global digital-government collective
- Interview: Tony Singleton on two decades at the forefront of digital government
The proposed departures of the most senior civil servants – including directors, deputy directors, permanent secretaries, and special advisers – are typically subject to the scrutiny of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), a non-departmental body under the sponsorship of the Cabinet Office. The committee also rules on government ministers intending to take commercial positions.
It is not known whether Maxwell’s departure has yet been ruled upon by ACOBA, or his department of employment. But government sources stressed to PublicTechnology the stringency of the business-appointment rules and that civil servants are legally bound to comply with them – and with any conditions imposed on approvals for accepting commercial positions.
AWS is a major supplier of web-hosting services to central government and the wider public sector, and holds active multimillion-pound contracts with the likes of the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, the Ministry of Justice, and the Government Digital Service.
A search of the Contracts Finder website shows that, in the 12 months alone, government departments and agencies have awarded the firm 11 contracts worth a total of almost £20m.
The Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport declined to comment for this story, and PublicTechnology was awaiting response from AWS at time of publication.
We revisit the big news and major events from the second half of 2018
We take a look back at the major developments that shaped the first half of the year
PublicTechnology talks to Siim Sikkut about why data embassies and ‘invisible services’ are key to country’s technological future
GDS leader discusses the transformation agenda for the months ahead