The exodus of senior staff at Government Digital Services continues today with the resignation of transformation programme director Michael Beaven. Beaven oversaw the massive operation of moving government services such as voter registration online. His exit follows that of GDS head Mike Bracken, deputy director Tom Loosemore, director of strategy Russell Davies, head of user research Leisa Reichelt and director of design Ben Terrett.
The mass exodus comes amid rumours that GDS could end up on the chopping block in the upcoming spending review. Jumping before they’re pushed…
Stephen Foreshew-Cain has been chosen to be the new head of Government Digital Services following the shock announcement last week that Mike Bracken will be leaving to lead digital content and strategy at the Co-op.
Stephen who is the current GDS chief operating officer, will take over the reigns at a period of increasing uncertainty for the Cabinet Office’s crack team of digital transformation boffins, with three other senior members of staff announcing their departure in Bracken’s wake. Stephen’s appointment puts to rest rumours that an outsider would be parachuted in to fill the role and indicates that GDS is planning to move forward with the team Bracken built around him. Presumably there was a fair and open application process for the plum £155,000+ job…
The biggest mistake Government Digital Service has made in recent years is failing to hire more women according to Mike Bracken, the head of GDS. Speaking to an audience at Policy Exchange yesterday, Bracken repeatedly refused to say what GDS should have done differently during his four year tenure other than to have diversified its workforce more.
“I regret not putting forward more stridently a generation of women in GDS at the start, and then in the technology profession. I regret not starting actively on that sooner, because while you’ve got a few great emerging leaders there’s not enough.”
Techno is a fan of the GDS and, of course, an ardent supporter of women in tech, up to a point. It seems Mike Bracken has forgotten about GDS’s failure to meet even half of its targets for online services, or how they borked the Home Office Visa and Immigration site, or how they fell way short of the mark with the Verify program and failed to turn around the disastrous rural payments system. Yet the biggest problem is that ‘only’ about 40% of GDS employees are women? What is the primary mission of the GDS? Gender equality or getting things to work?