Sally Meecham unveiled as GDS interim COO

Written by Sam Trendall on 20 June 2018 in News

Civil servant returns to organisation to take operational reins

Credit: GDS

Sally Meecham has been unveiled as interim chief operating officer of the Government Digital Service.

The move represents something of a homecoming for Meecham, who wrote in a blog that she has “been involved with GDS, or a forerunner to it, for more than a decade”. 

This includes a period from 2001 to 2003 working for the Office of the e-Envoy, an organisation that was set up in 1999 with the goal of taking all government departments online. Meecham later spent 2009 working for the Cabinet Office on its strategy for the Directgov online platform, before spending an 18-month period at GDS between June 2013 and December 2014, according to her LinkedIn profile.

From 2016 to 2017, she spent 14 months as chief digital officer at Defra, before holding an equivalent post at the Crown Commercial Service. At other points of her career, she has also held roles at the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office, the Department for Health, and the Scottish Government, as well as spells in local government and the private and charity sectors.

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“Working both at GDS and other public sector agencies and departments enabled me to see how critical GDS is to digital transformation across government,” Meecham said. “Coming back into the centre is exciting. Returning to GDS provides an important perspective and knowledge of the obstacles departments can face when attempting digital transformation.”

The COO job has changed hands quite frequently of late. In April last year, Alex Holmes announced he was vacating the GDS operations hot seat to take a position with the then Department of Culture, Media and Sport. He was replaced in August 2017 by Alison Pritchard, who moved to GDS from Defra. But, in April 2018 – the same month Meecham started work as interim operations chief – Pritchard took on full-time responsibility for leading GDS’s Brexit-related work, and the COO post was advertised again.

Meecham said that she wants to use her time as COO to help better promote the work GDS is doing.

“I am keen to ensure we become better at talking about all the brilliant digital services we help departments to deliver,” she said. “I want to demonstrate that GDS offers value for money and quality products. We are putting monthly reporting in place and have built dashboards to help update our reporting processes. The business operations teams will provide the tools and support to ensure a common way of working across GDS and these dashboards will assist this.”

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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