Government chief data officer job remains unfilled

Written by Sam Trendall on 23 November 2018 in News
News

Minister confirms that role is still vacant – nearly two years after the government announced its creation

The role of government chief data officer is yet to be filled – almost two years after it was announced the post was to be created.

The creation of a dedicated post as chief data officer was one of the initiatives that formed part of the Government Transformation Strategy published on 9 February 2017. 

The CDO would, the strategy said, “lead on use of data” across government. This work would be supported by a Data Advisory Board – which has since been created, and is chaired by John Manzoni, permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office and chief executive of the civil service. 

However, the chief data officer post itself is still vacant, minister for implementation Oliver Dowden confirmed today in response to a written parliamentary question. 

He said: “There is close co-operation between DCMS, GDS and ONS on data policy and governance, while strategic oversight for the collection and use of data held by government departments is currently provided by the cross-government Data Advisory Board.”


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Dowden did not provide any further comment on the progress of the recruitment process. PublicTechnology had contacted the Cabinet Office to see if any such additional information was available – and to clarify if the government remained committed to hiring a CDO – and was awaiting response at time of going to press.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jo Platt – who posed the written question to which Dowden was responding – claimed that the fact a chief data officer is yet to be recruited is “yet another dismal failure from government”. 

“Just three weeks after we discovered that the government have failed to appoint a chief security officer, we now have it confirmed that they have also failed to appoint a chief data officer – nearly two years after the post was announced. A central point of contact and a source of co-ordination is essential in this technological and data age. Nowhere is that more important than across government. This failure is yet more evidence that the government is asleep at the wheel and that we just cannot trust them to keep us and our data safe.”

In March 2015 Mike Bracken was appointed as the government’s first-ever chief data officer – a role he was given on top of his duties as head of the Government Digital Service. Six months later he left the civil service, and there has been no pan-government CDO since then.

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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