Technology chief Andy Beale latest GDS leader to quit

 Exit of chief technology officer marks latest in a series of departures from Government Digital Service over the last three months

By Rebecca Hill

27 Oct 2016

In the latest high-profile departure from the Government Digital Service, Andy Beale will be stepping down as chief technology officer in December.

Confirming the planned departure, the Cabinet Office said Beale — who has only held the role for around six months — would continue to work at GDS until the new year and will leave in January.

It is the latest in a series of departures from GDS over the last three months, which began with Stephen Foreshew-Cain’s surprise departure at the start of August.

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Foreshew-Cain, who last week said he was to join some of his former GDS colleagues on the Co-op’s digital team, was replaced by Kevin Cunnington.

However, Cunnington's leadership style is seen as being quite a shift from that of Foreshew-Cain and his predecessor Mike Bracken.

Meanwhile, there have been continued rumours about low morale among GDS staff, fuelled by the news that Cunnington brought with him some of his leadership team from his old job at the Department for Work and Pensions, alongside the departure of key members of Foreshew-Cain's leadership team.

These started just two weeks after Foreshew-Cain left, with the immediate departure of Janet Hughes, the lead on GDS flagship project Verify. Earlier this month it was revealed that data champion Paul Maltby would be leaving at the end of the year.

Trade publication ComputerWeekly has also reported that Susana Burlevy, who worked at GDS as HR director for the digital, data and technology profession, has recently left the service.

This would mean that of the nine people Foreshew-Cain name-checked as being the “strong leadership team” he was leaving behind when he announced his departure — namely Alex Holmes, Wendy Coello, Chris Ferguson, Janet Hughes, Iain Patterson, Olivia Neal, Andy Beale, Susana Burlevy and Paul Maltby — just five remain.

The Cabinet Office spokesman said: "Kevin will work with the rest of the team and across government, to decide how to replace Andy's expertise and deliver the GDS mission to support, enable and assure all transformation work across government."

CSW’s sister site PublicTechnology understands that there will be some new appointments made to the team in the coming weeks — however it is thought that there will also be another high-profile departure for GDS to contend with.

Beale, who joined government in 2012, having previously worked on The Guardian’s technology team, took over as chief technology officer at GDS in April this year, after Liam Maxwell was appointed as the UK’s national technology adviser.

During his time at GDS, Beale has overseen the creation of the Common Technology Services team, which has a role in ensuring projects meet the GDS’s service standards and is responsible for helping departments reduce their IT spending.

This includes the government’s spend controls on IT and digital projects, which Cunnington last week indicated would be relaxed.

In a press briefing, Cunnington said that there would not be a “one size fits all” approach to spend controls and that £100,000 — the limit set for digital projects when the controls were launched in 2010 — was now “too low” for most government digital projects.

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