GDS boss Mike Bracken to step down in September

Cabinet Office says departure of the government's digital chief will prompt rethink of the "best structure for the next phase of digital transformation"

By Civil Service World

03 Aug 2015

Mike Bracken is to step down as executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS), the Cabinet Office has announced.

Bracken was drafted into the civil service in July 2011 after a stint as digital development chief for publisher Guardian News and Media.

His four years in Whitehall have seen the launch of GDS, a team at the centre of government which has unified departmental websites under the single GOV.UK platform and attempted to overhaul the way the civil service deals with IT suppliers.

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In a statement published on Monday afternoon, the Cabinet Office said Bracken – who will also leave the chief data officer job he added to his portfolio in March – had "decided to move on" from the GDS role.

"This first phase of transformation has now been successfully completed," the statement said. "The new generation of digital and tech talent that Mike has helped to bring, not just into GDS, but across government, will lead the next phases - Government as a Platform, Common Technology Services, and redefining the government’s role on data."

The Cabinet Office said Bracken would now work alongside civil service chief executive John Manzoni to identify "the best structure for the next phase of digital transformation" before leaving post at the end of September. A spokesperson told CSW that the Cabinet Office may consider external recruitment for Bracken's successor, but that no final decision had been made on the future shape of the digital team.

'Honour and a pleasure'

Writing on GOV.UK, Bracken said he had informed Manzoni of his decision to leave at the "end of last week", and paid tribute to his GDS colleagues.

"Leadership is a total privilege, one can only lead with the consent and support of a team and I’ll say right here and now that the team at GDS is the best digital delivery group in the world," he said.

"It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with them all, whether they are here now or spent just a short period with us in the last five years. They are dedicated, determined, talented and funny. I will miss them more than I can possibly explain. Government doesn’t know how lucky it is."

Bracken said he believed that government's digital projects would remain "in capable hands", and said GDS had been shown support by the recently-appointed minister for the Cabinet Office, Matt Hancock.

'Catalytic role'

In a statement, Cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood praised the outgoing GDS chief, saying Bracken had played a "vital catalytic role [...] in helping to transform government digital services".

Heywood added: "Under his leadership the UK is now genuinely considered to be a world leader in digital government. Mike has also done a great job building an enduring digital capability within the civil service, helping to attract world class digital talent into government, both in GDS and in departments.

"Thanks to the outstanding platform Mike has built I am confident that our programme of digital and data transformation will continue apace."

The announcement of Bracken's departure comes after last week's news that Bill Crothers, the government's chief commercial officer, is also leaving Whitehall.

The Cabinet Office said that Crothers – who led the formation of the Crown Commercial Service and who will continue to advise the government on commercial reform – had decided it was the "right time to move to the next stage of his career".

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