Ex-GDS boss Mike Bracken gets the old team back together at the Co-op

Four ex-Government Digital Service staff join their old boss at the Co-op

By Matt Foster

22 Oct 2015

Former Government Digital Service chief Mike Bracken has hired a number of his former GDS colleagues to join him in his new gig at the Co-operative.

Bracken left his role as executive director of the central government unit at the end of September to take up post as the Co-op's chief digital officer.

He was followed out of the door by GDS deputy director Tom Loosemore, director of strategy Russell Davies and director of design Ben Terrett. All three – alongside former GDS technical architect  Mat Wall, who left in August – have now been brought into the Co-op's new digital team.

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Bracken revealed the appointments in a blog for the Co-op Digital Team on Thursday, and also used the opportunity to talk up GDS's record.

"Russell Davies is joining us today as digital strategy director, Tom Loosemore is our new digital services director and Ben Terrett has joined as group design director, and Mat Wall is working with the team to review our digital and data architecture," he said.

"Together, Ben, Tom, Russell, Mat and I founded the Government Digital Service. With our colleagues there, and across government, we delivered GOV.UK, saved billions for the taxpayer, won the Design of the Year Award and – most importantly –  delivered substantially improved services for millions of people.

"We’re used to working as a team so we hope it won’t take us long to get up and going."

Earlier this week, Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock batted away questions about staff turnover at GDS, accusing Labour of "sniping" about the team's future in the wake of the senior exits.

Cabinet Office figures released after a parliamentary question by the opposition showed that staff turnover at GDS was 19% in the year to September 30.

Hancock pointed out that the figure was lower than in the Cabinet Office as a whole, where turnover was 30% over the same period.

Cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood told CSW recently that talk of a downgrading of the role of GDS at the forthcoming Spending Review was misplaced.

"Yes we have lost Mike, and we’ve lost two or three other people," he said. "It’s a rapidly turning over part of government. We’ve brought some good new people in as well. 

"I’ve got absolute confidence in the team that we’ve got and it’s got my full backing. It has to: there’s no way we can make these savings without mainstreaming digital. So I think Mike would be the first to say the stories in the press are completely misguided."

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