So here it is again: A Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) vacancy. The role — advertised at £190,000, with the successful candidate to be based in Bristol, London, or Manchester — is being described as “the most senior digital data and technology leader in the UK government, responsible for shaping and delivering HMG’s digital, data and technology transformation to deliver better services (and ultimately outcomes) for UK citizens, for improving data-driven decision-making across government, and for managing technology related risks.”
HMG has tried and failed to fill this hole before. This time, those close to it say, it’s different. Since a previous effort in 2019 to hire for the role, things have changed in terms of digital delivery across government; not least that a new Central Digital and Data Office for Government (CDDO) has been created, giving the incoming Chief Digital Officer a team of some 200 and the authority to bang heads together, where necessary.
Minds have also been focussed on the challenge by greater focus on cybersecurity. The government’s 2022-2030 cybersecurity strategy for government, for example (published late January) recognises that “a more comprehensive and joined up response” is needed — which won’t happen without significantly greater top-down visibility of the government’s IT estate; something the CDDO (providing “central leadership of cyber security and digital transformation at the heart of government” is singled out in the report as providing.)
As Major General Tom Copinger-Symes, CBE, Director of Strategy & Military Digitisation at UK Strategic Command noted on LinkedIn: “What a fabulous opening for someone who wants to lead tangible, transformative change across UK Government… a unique opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Government Chief Digital Officer will be “convenor and coordinator”
Alex Chisholm, COO of the Civil Service, and Paul Willmott, Chairman, CDDO, note in a candidate information pack: “Realising our objective of a world-leading digital Government requires an ongoing major transformational effort. This includes: updating or replacing legacy technologies, accelerating the move to scalable cloud-based technologies, shaping the policies, capabilities and architectures needed to unlock the potential of vast Government data sets, and embracing the latest technologies to pioneer ever-more convenient ways to deliver services to citizens and businesses, with ever greater efficiency. This is a ‘hands on’ role that requires a full time commitment and reports directly to Alex Chisholm with oversight from Paul Willmott, with a direct line to Downing Street and Cabinet Ministers. The successful candidate will be approved by the Prime Minister.”
The Government Chief Digital Officer will be responsible for “inspiring thousands of Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) professionals across the Civil Service to ensure that all the work of the DDaT function is delivered to the highest standard. DDaT activities are central to all large-scale transformation activity and the main focus for innovation; this role will therefore also be the convenor and coordinator of transformation and innovation activity across the whole of HMG,” an advert first posted earlier in February notes.
It adds that the government is seeking an “inspiring and talented senior leader with a proven track record in digital, data and technology transformation and the ability to build effective and trusted relationships with senior stakeholders… along with exceptional communication skills and high personal impact, with the ability to adjust communication styles to suit both technical and non-technical audiences.”
Jane Burgess, a Civil Service Commissioner, will chair the recruitment process. Other interview panel members will include Alex Chisholm; Paul Willmott, Chair of the Central Digital and Data Office (who had earlier been speculatively connected with the role); Mark Denney, former Chief Information Officer at HMRC; and Gina Gill, Chief Digital Information Officer, Ministry of Justice. Applications close 12.00pm on Friday March 18, 2022.