Cabinet Reshuffle: What Does That Mean For Digital Government?

Steve Berkley, the new Minister of the Cabinet Office, is understood to have a keen interest in digital government. Credit: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment

In the technical field of the public sector, few terms are used as often as “transformation.”

Even in this world, last week’s cabinet reshuffle was quite transformative. All ministers with some responsibility for the government’s use of digital and data and related policy areas have been replaced, transferred, or simply dismissed.

Perhaps most notable is the transfer of Julia Lopez, Minister of the Cabinet Office for Government Digital Services, Central Digital and Data Offices, and Government Digital, Data, and Technology features to the Minister of Digital Culture and Media. .. And sports. The full details of her new job responsibilities have not yet been announced, but it is understood that her portfolio focuses on digital and data. Hornchurch and Upminster MP has already represented her new division in Congress and is participating in a debate this week at Westminster Hall about the government’s project Gigabit program to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to hard-to-reach facilities. ..

The outline of the digital government minister she left behind has become like a hot potato in recent years. Lopez became the tenth person in more than half a year to take responsibility for the GDS and the broader Whitehall technology and transformation agenda.

The Digital Agency was founded under the supervision of then-Cabinet Minister Francis Maude. His immediate successors, Matt Hancock and Ben Gummer, also oversaw the work of the GDS directly. However, shortly after the 2017 general election, GDS oversight was transferred to the Under Secretary’s portfolio while Damian Green was in charge of the division.

Caroline Nokes first undertook the briefs and has since been managed by Oliver Dowden, Simon Hart, Jeremy Quin, Sir Agnew, and later Lopez.

Her successor has not been announced, and Public Technology understands that the latest ministerial administration could bring the responsibility of the digital government back to the top of the sector.

The remodeling saw Steve Berkeley, Treasury Secretary, who was appointed Prime Minister and Cabinet Office Minister of the Duchy of Lancaster to replace Michael Gove.

Although no official announcement has been made, it is understood that Berkeley has a keen interest in digital government and is likely to be directly responsible for GDS, CDDO, and the broader briefs.

For 19 months in the Treasury, he worked with the GDS to create a tool that provides data to inform government investment decisions, showing evidence that the new Cabinet Office head is supporting digital transformation.

In July 2020, Berkeley gave his first speech in his previous position as an opportunity for a planned government spending review (finally delayed by a year due to a pandemic) to bring about a “fundamental change.” He said he wanted to be used. In Whitehall’s digital and data infrastructure.

“New public infrastructure is emerging to manage the way we collect, share and leverage the vast datasets that are generated as a by-product of life in the 21st century,” he said. “But to build this, we need to organize our data architecture and datasets.

“Remember that the Secretary of State has an average tenure of less than two years, so it’s no wonder that issues such as legacy IT often go down in priority to new and exciting ones. This is despite the fact that about half of the central government’s IT spending is currently spent on legacy IT services. Such an approach is not only costly, but also cybersecurity. It poses a risk of, hinders agile work practices and interactions between departments, and more openly hinders the use of new and innovative IT solutions and data sharing, so the main focus of spending planning is , Working on legacy IT and investing in the data infrastructure needed to become a true digital government. “

DCMS obligations
As if to explain Berkeley’s claim, Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, was transferred during the remodeling in less than two years.

Returned to the Cabinet Office, stayed in the Cabinet as a non-profit minister, and chaired the Conservative Party.

He was replaced by Nadine Dorries in DCMS.

The MP in Mid Bedfordshire is ultimately responsible for the UK’s data protection regime and online damage strategy. In this regard, some industry spectators have expressed concern that Dolly’s once revealed that it regularly shares Congressional logins with all staff, including internships and short-term workers. I am.

The 2017 revelation prompted a warning from the Information Commissioner’s Office. Information Commissioner’s Office tweeted. “We are aware of reports that MPs share logins and passwords and contact relevant parliamentary authorities. Remind MPs and others of their obligations under data protection laws to keep their personal data secure. increase.”

Despite widespread criticism, Dolly defended her actions at the time. She noticed that she is currently in charge of the department that sponsors the ICO.

Her team of ministers does not include Matt Warman and John Whittingdale, who have been removed from their respective posts as ministers of digital infrastructure and media and data.

The DCMS Minister’s lineup is completed by Nigel Huddleston, Minister of Sports and Tourism, alongside Lopez and Dolly’s, and Chris Philp, whose portfolio has not yet been identified.

The next Digital Secretary used her first speech delivered at the opening of London Tech Week in the post to express her ambition that Britain should foster a larger homemade tech company.

“We’ve proved each year that this is the country to start a pioneering tech business. But in reality, that’s not enough. I think all these companies stay in the UK and the UK We want to grow in and become a global brand based here in the UK. We have cracked the start-ups. Now is the time to grow and pave the way for a new generation of British high-tech giants. “

To support this, governments need to listen to the ideas and needs of technology companies. One is a robust and supportive regulatory environment.

“I would like to hear what we think we can do to take UK technology to a higher level. For example, I already know that one of the things you need most is stable regulation. “I will,” said Dolly’s. “That’s why the government prioritizes putting everything it does about technology into one coherent strategy. In July, it announced a digital regulatory plan, which will be technology for the next few years. Innovation is at the heart of that plan and we would like to work with you to set the right rules for the next era of technology. “

Cabinet Reshuffle: What Does That Mean For Digital Government?

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