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GDS reboots as transformation resource



Director general says it is about ‘more than digital’ as service takes on DWP academy

The Government Digital Service (GDS) received a major boost yesterday, with the announcement that it will absorb the resources of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Digital Academy, and received a new remit to go beyond “just digital”.

It means that GDS has “a real national presence for the very first time”, said Minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer on making his first official visit to the service.

The measures also signal a closer alignment between the DWP and GDS following Kevin Cunnington's (pictured) move to the latter to become its first ever director general.

The Government’s Digital Transformation Strategy is also going to be updated, said Gummer, to match the “new and larger remit of GDS”, taking into account both Brexit and the other “challenges” the public sector now faces.

Cunnington also told the meeting that “more and more we are going to make the work from GDS about transformation, not just digital” - and that “an updated and complete Digital Transformation Strategy” will be produced under his leadership before the end of the year.

New headquarters

As part of this expansion, a new governmental digital HQ and hub for the combined team will now be set up in Aldgate, London, the minister told over 500 staff at Aviation House. The move is scheduled to complete before the end of summer 2017, according to the Cabinet Office.

“These are significant moments, not just for GDS and the Cabinet Office, but for the millions of people who use government services every day,” said Gummer (pictured).

“Our message is clear: we are working hard to make life easier for the people of the UK. We want our services to be simple, easy and efficient, and I’m here today to reaffirm that commitment.”

“We have a superb team, and I want our UK strategy to not only reflect the bold ambition that we have across government, but the new challenges that now face us,” added Cunnington.

Commenting on the news of the merger of GDS and the academy, Daniel Thornton, programme director at the Institute for Government, said: “We welcome the news that the DWP Digital Academy will be expanded to spread expertise and understanding of digital working across government.

“Our research shows that government urgently needs to increase its digital capability."

Images from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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