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Government Digital Service doubles in size in three years

The Government Digital Service has more than doubled in size over the last three years to around 860 employees, its director general has revealed.

Speaking on the latest episode of the GDS podcast, Kevin Cunnington said the innovation agency’s new structure had enabled it to be more forward thinking.

But he admitted it had taken “much longer than I thought it would to get to a point where I’ve got the same quality of thinking time that I had [in the Department for Work and Pensions].”

Cunnington served as director of general business transformation at DWP, where he said he was able to dedicate more of his time to strategy, for more than two years before taking over the reins of GDS in August 2016.

“It’s taken the nearly three years I’ve been here to get to a point where I think I’ve now got the right structures and management team in place to free up time to think about what is our 2030 vision,” he said.

As the head of GDS, Cunnington has been tasked with improving the way government uses technology. But in March he warned MPs that Whitehall departments apply an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to insecure and outdated IT.

“Legacy IT costs more to secure and it’s more difficult to secure,” Cunnington told the science and technology select committee. “It is a real security concern that we move away from legacy to things that are more modern.”

In evidence submitted to the committee’s inquiry into GDS’s work earlier this year, the tech trade body TechUK wrote that “the current and future mission of GDS needs clarifying to the tech industry”.