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Jeremy Quin named as third GDS minister in six months

Jeremy Quin has become the third minister in six months to take on responsibility for the Government Digital Service (GDS).

The MP for Horsham was named as parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet Office during a reshuffle following last month’s general election.

But the government has only now revealed the details of Quin’s portfolio, which includes oversight of GDS, cyber and resilience and the Government Security Group.

The junior minister takes over the brief from Simon Hart, who was promoted in December to secretary of state for Wales having only joined the Cabinet Office four months earlier. He had succeeded Oliver Dowden, who continues to serve as minister for the Cabinet Office, in August.

The rapid succession of ministers tasked with overseeing GDS has been a source of concern among civil servants and within the govtech sector since Francis Maude stepped down in 2015, bringing an end to his five-year stint at the helm of the Cabinet Office.

Two years ago, when Oliver Dowden took over the role, technology commentators warned that the near-constant changeover threatened GDS’s reputation as an internationally-renowned service.

“If you have a succession of leadership changes I think it makes it really difficult to get in and understand what’s required to ensure that the digital service is truly first class,” Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates, warned at the time.

The Cabinet Office and Government Digital Service are likely to play a central role in Dominic Cummings’ plans to overhaul how Whitehall operates. In a blogpost published last week, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser revealed plans to hire data scientists and software developers in order to accelerate change across the civil service.

In a note on his website, Quin said: “I am greatly honoured to have been appointed to serve as a Minister (Parliamentary Under Secretary) in the Cabinet Office. As ‘Minister for Implementation’ the role is at the heart of the Government and I am delighted to be supporting the Prime Minister in driving forward the Government’s ambitious agenda and ensuring our machinery of Government is optimised to deliver for the country.”