The government’s national technology advisor Liam Maxwell is set to depart government and take a role with Amazon Web Services, according to reports.
Maxwell has been a civil servant for seven years, having joined the Cabinet Office in 2011 as executive director of IT reform and deputy government chief information officer. Between 2012 and 2016, he was part of the Government Digital Service, and served as the government’s chief technology officer. Since 2016, Maxwell has been based primarily in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in his post as national technology advisor.
This was a post created for Maxwell, and it is not yet clear whether he will be directly replaced when he leaves the civil service – the date of which is also yet to be confirmed.
Civil servants moving to jobs outside government are subject to business appointment rules and, in many cases, must apply to their department for approval. Departments may then impose conditions, such as a ban on using privileged information gained during their civil-service career, or one- or two-year embargoes on lobbying the government or taking part in any commercial discussions or engagements between their new employer and the government.
The proposed departures of the most senior civil servants – including directors, deputy directors, permanent secretaries, and special advisers – are typically subject to the scrutiny of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), a non-departmental body under the sponsorship of the Cabinet Office. The committee also rules on government ministers intending to take commercial positions.
It is not known whether Maxwell’s departure has yet been ruled upon by ACOBA, or his department of employment. But government sources stressed to Civil Service World’s sister publication PublicTechnology the stringency of the business-appointment rules and that civil servants are legally bound to comply with them – and with any conditions imposed on approvals for accepting commercial positions.
AWS, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, is a major supplier of web-hosting services to central government and the wider public sector, and holds active multimillion-pound contracts with the likes of the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, the Ministry of Justice, and the Government Digital Service.
A search of the Contracts Finder website shows that, in the 12 months alone, government departments and agencies have awarded the firm 11 contracts worth a total of almost £20m.
The Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport declined to comment for this story, and PublicTechnology was awaiting response from AWS at time of publication.