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New GDS chief says it will not be broken up

05/08/16

Kevin Cunnington claims support of John Mazoni, the head of the Civil Service, for the future of the Government Digital Service

There are no plans to break up the Government Digital Service and it is remaining in the Cabinet Office, its new director general has said.

Kevin Cunnington (pictured) has made the assertion in an introductory blogpost, days after he suddenly replaced Stephen Foreshew-Cain in the post.

Kevin_CunningtonIt comes in response to rumours, which have gathered steam in recent months, that there has been considerable opposition to the work of GDS in major Whitehall departments with pressure from some quarters to break it up or transfer it away from the Cabinet Office.

“I want to tackle one thing head on: GDS will not be broken up,” Cunnington says. “We remain part of the Cabinet Office with a clear mandate to lead digital, technology and data across government.

“I say this with the support and backing of John Manzoni, chief executive of the Civil Service and permanent secretary for Cabinet Office. By bringing me in as director general for GDS, John is making it clear that this organisation matters, and is here to stay.”

Work continues

He adds that work is carrying on in the organisation, and that he will spend the first few weeks getting to know people and understand their plans and any concerns.

In addition, he highlights progress in the three workstreams of the Government as a Platform programme – GOV.UK Verify, Pay and Notify. Given that these have reportedly stirred up some opposition in Whitehall the statement suggests that there will be continuing support for their implementation.

Cunnington also provides some praise for his predecessor, saying that Foreshew-Cain achieved a great deal during his year in charge, and pointing to the securing of £450 million for the organisation’s work in the last Spending Review as a significant achievement.

Postcript: Speaking a few days later: Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said: "We have made great strides but we can go further.

"We will continue the transformation of government services so that we can better serve the public and to continue the global leadership in digital transformation that the Government Digital Service is rightly famed for at home and abroad."

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

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