Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer has said he has been “frustrated” by rumours about the demise of the Government Digital Service (GDS), and hinted that the government's long-delayed digital strategy could be out within weeks.
Speaking at the launch of the government’s Supplier Standard for technology contracts, Gummer said he had been surprised by the extent of the speculation following the news that GDS leader Stephen Foreshew-Cain was being replaced by the Department for Work and Pensions’ Kevin Cunnington.
“I have to say, I was given a surprise in my first couple of weeks,” he said. “I thought parliament was a gossipy place, but the discussion and exchange of views did surprise me and they were frustrating in a sense.”
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In a strong hint that the long-delayed digital strategy is expected soon, Gummer said: “I think what people will see in the next few weeks is that the vision this government has for digital has never been so clear, so intense and so coordinated."
He also emphasised his support for GDS, saying not only that it was “one of the things we’re most proud of in the Cabinet Office” but that he felt it could be given a greater role.
“My observation on coming into the job was that GDS was not doing all that it could do; it wasn’t being given the resources and the power to deliver everything I wanted it to do throughout government,” he said.
Gummer added: “I’ve already commissioned it to do two very large pieces of work that it wasn’t doing before.”
The new Cabinet Office minister's speech came just after his first round of questions in parliament, at which he said the government would be making an announcement “in the next few weeks” on the steps it was taking to prevent hacking of digital technology.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said they could not provide any more details on the GDS projects or provide a date for the digital strategy, but added that Gummer was due to visit GDS next week.