Former Cameron spad Oliver Dowden gets civil service brief in Cabinet Office shakeup

Confirmation of the new ministerial portfolios following last week’s reshuffle reveals switch in ministerial responsibilities for public appointments

Minister for implementation Oliver Dowden. Photo: Chris McAndrew/CC BY SA 3.0

By Richard Johnstone

16 Jan 2018

Oliver Dowden, who served as former prime minister David Cameron’s deputy chief of staff overseeing domestic policy in No 10 until he was elected to Parliament in 2015, has been given responsibility for the civil service in the revamped Cabinet Office role of minister for implementation.

Confirmation of responsibilities in the central department yesterday confirmed that Dowden would take similar responsibilities to those of his predecessor Caroline Nokes, who was the Cabinet Office minister for government resilience and efficiency until she was appointed immigration minister last week.

Dowden's duties also include ministerial responsibility for efficiency and controls, Single Departmental Plans, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority and the Government Digital Service.


In addition he has oversight of ‘’what works", behaviour change and government property. A revised government estates strategy will be published in the spring, which will include proposals for a “redistribution of public servants” around the country, as well as shared services, following the publication of a new shared services strategy.

However, Dowden’s role has been rebranded as the minister for implementation, and he has been given responsibility for public appointments, a role held by the minister for the constitution before last week’s changes. Chloe Smith has been confirmed in this post, which has responsibility for government communications, fraud, error, debt and grants and public bodies reform.

Smith’s predecessor Chris Skidmore told Civil Service World that the government is likely to create more than 20 new public bodies as a result of Brexit, with all likely to be placed outside London. This will be now be taken forward by Smith.

David Lidington’s responsibilities as minister for the Cabinet Office have also been confirmed as matching those of his predecessor Damian Green, including chairing and deputy chairing Cabinet committees and implementation taskforces and overseeing the devolution consequences of EU exit.

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