Government chief digital officer post on offer for £190k

Current CDDO head Joanna Davinson is to depart role imminently
Photo: Alachua County/CC BY 2.0

By Sam Trendall

17 Feb 2022

A salary of £190,000 is on offer for a new government chief digital officer, with Whitehall’s most senior digital leader, Joanna Davinson, set to depart her role imminently.

According to the job advert, the incoming GCDO will be “the most senior digital data and technology leader in the UK government”. The postholder will take over direct leadership of the 200 staff of the Central Digital and Data Office, as well assuming “wider accountability… as leader and professional head of HM Government’s 20,000-strong digital, data and technology community”.

It is understood that the incumbent executive director of CDDO, Davinson, will depart her role once the new leader is on board. The Cabinet Office indicated that she had been appointed to fulfil a fixed-term appointment, with the intention having always been to recruit a permanent government chief digital officer at the conclusion of that contract. 

According to the candidate information pack, the GCDO’s primary duties will include “owning the vision and strategy for digital, data and technology” for government, as well as “providing the professional leadership of the DDaT function, including setting cross-government workforce strategy”.

The digital chief will also work closely with the Treasury to ensure the £8bn-plus cumulatively spent by departments on technology and IT services each year provides value for money and delivers the desired outcomes.

As part of this – and in support of “an ongoing major transformational effort” across government – the GCDO will be expected to support departments in “updating or replacing legacy technologies [and] accelerating the move to scalable cloud-based technologies”.

The successful candidate will report to Alex Chisholm, Cabinet Office permanent secretary and chief operating officer of the civil service, with additional “oversight from Paul Wilmott” – the part-time, non-executive chair of the Central Digital and Data Office, who also serves as chief digital adviser of toy company Lego.

The GCDO appointment requires prime ministerial approval, and the digital bigwig will have a “direct line to Downing Street and cabinet ministers”.

In a joint foreword to the candidate pack, Chisholm and Wilmott wrote: “For a deeply experienced leader, there is no working environment more exciting, more challenging, or more rewarding than government, and perhaps no more important time for public service. We have the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people.

"This role requires experience and credibility in the DDaT field, but also a genuine passion for innovation, change and for making things better and a respect for public sector and civil service values.”

Applications for the role are open until midday on 18 March.

The recruitment process is the third time in less than three years that government has sought to hire an overall digital leader.

In September 2019, the newly created position of government chief digital and information officer was advertised with a salary of £180,000. This role was never filled and, 11 months later – and with an extra £20,000 added to the salary – a new advert was published for a vacancy as government chief digital officer.

In January 2021, the creation of the Central Digital and Data Office was announced, with Davinson unveiled as its executive leader. Although she did not take on the title, her appointment came instead of the planned recruitment of the GCDO.

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW sister title PublicTechnology, where this story first appeared

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