Cabinet Office
show image

UK renews search for ‘government chief digital officer’ as Fiona Deans takes reins at GDS

The government is renewing its search for a chief digital officer to work across Whitehall after two previous recruitment drives failed to attract an appropriate candidate.

First advertised in 2017, the position was given new powers as officials renewed the search in September last year. But the beefed up role and fresh recruitment drive did not yield an appointment.

In a blogpost published on Monday afternoon (24 August), the Cabinet Office’s permanent secretary Alex Chisholm said the scope of the role had been revised yet again as officials prepared to launch their third search for a candidate.

“The GCDO will be the professional head of HMG’s 18,000 strong digital, data and technology [DDaT] profession, oversee the Government Digital Service [GDS] and lead the DDaT function,” Chisholm wrote.

“They will be responsible for shaping and delivering HMG’s innovation and transformation strategies to overhaul government’s legacy IT systems, strengthen our cyber security, 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.”

Chisholm also announced that GDS has appointed Fiona Deans as its interim director general (DG) as Alison Pritchard steps down to take on a new role at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Pritchard, who has served as interim DG of the Cabinet Office agency since last August, will join the ONS as deputy national statistician and director general for data capability in October.

In her new role, Pritchard will be tasked with driving “the transformation of data services available to analysts, decision-makers and the public, mobilising data held by departments and providing an authoritative and compelling public face for this agenda”, according to the Cabinet Office’s permanent secretary Alex Chisholm.

Writing in a blog published, Chisholm explained that Deans, currently the chief operating officer at GDS, would fill Pritchard’s shoes on a temporary basis. “I will be writing again in the next few weeks with further detail on the process for recruiting a permanent successor.”