PM moves government data function from GDS to DCMS

Department also takes over BEIS remit for digital signatures in policy shake-up


Theresa May said the move was intended to bring together all data policy in one place. Credit: PA

By Sam Trendall

03 Apr 2018

Prime minister Theresa May has announced that responsibility for data policy, governance, and sharing across government – as well as overseeing digital signatures – is to move to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Government Digital Service held responsibility for government data, including creating policy, overseeing data-sharing and governance, and promoting data ethics. From 1 April, responsibility for these functions was handed over to DCMS.

The department has also assumed responsibility for overseeing policy relating to digital signatures, which currently resides with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. DCMS will also work alongside BEIS in leading government’s relationship with the Open Data Institute, the Alan Turing Institute, and the Digital Catapult.


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In a written statement, May said: “The expanded Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport brings together in one place data policy for both government and the wider economy. This will support work, led by DCMS, to ensure the UK is fully realising the benefits of the data economy for all.”

She added: “GDS will continue its work supporting the ongoing digital transformation of government, building digital capability in the civil service, and championing service-design across government to meet user needs.”

The prime minister also confirmed that “strategic data-policy initiatives” currently overseen by BEIS and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will, from 1 April, fall under the remit of the Cabinet Office.

This, May said, is intended “to support the work” of the newly founded Geospatial Commission that the government launched in the Budget in November.

Reports first surfaced last month that GDS was set to lose responsibility for data policy to DCMS.

At the time, the Cabinet Office did not confirm or deny the move, but said that the two departments were “looking at how to bring together and further strengthen their work on the use and management of data across government”, and said an announcement would follow in due course.

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