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Theo Blackwell recognised in new year honours


Michael Cross Correspondent

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Theo Blackwell, London’s first chief digital officer, has been awarded an MBE - one of only a handful of leaders from the public sector IT community to be recognised in the new year honours.

Blackwell, appointed in 2017, receives the award for services to local government digital transformation.

In a congratulatory tweet, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Blackwell “has played a pivotal role in transforming the way London’s public services are designed and delivered – improving the lives of Londoners”.

Elsewhere, the 2019 list contains a handful of references to achievements connected with digital government.

One unexpected name is that of Professor Helen Margetts, former director of the Oxford Internet Institute, who receives the OBE for services to social and political science. Margetts’ research on “digital era governance” was influential in the debate over the outsourcing of IT. More recently she has specialised in social media and politics. 


Margetts said:  “I am taking it as a ringing endorsement for the kind of multi-disciplinary research we do at the University of Oxford's Oxford Internet Institute and the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and AI, for the importance of technology in politics and public policy - and most importantly, for all the wonderful and talented colleagues and friends that I have worked with over the last 25 years.“

Also honoured are Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, who receives the CBE for services to protecting information, and Simon McKinnon, digital director for children at the Department for Work and Pensions, with the same award for public service.

In addition, OBEs go to Anne Kay, chief information officer digital for the Scottish Government, for services to digital development and Carol Tullo, former controller at HM Stationery Office, for services to official publishing.

In the private sector, Stephen Coleman, chief executive at technology incubator CodeBase, receives the OBE for services to technology entrepreneurship and Cindy Rose, UK chief executive at Microsoft, the same award for services to UK technology.

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