The government has announced the appointment of Andy Beale as deputy chief technology officer to drive the adoption of digital systems and services across Whitehall.
Beale will leave his position as director of common technology at the Government Digital Service (GDS) and will be succeeded by Ian Patterson, who currently serves as CTO at the DVLA.
The government described Beale’s role at GDS as pivotal in reforming technology use in government and noted how he has helped to deliver £3.5bn in savings.
He will now report to government CTO Liam Maxwell, and will oversee the technology teams at GDS. This will include teams covering architecture, policy and standards, service assurance and controls, and strategic change.
Beale explained that his new role is a “fantastic opportunity” to support other CTOs in the government and drive IT reform in Whitehall.
“I’m incredibly proud of the transformation of Civil Service technology, starting with the Cabinet Office Technology Project and continuing with the creation of Common Technology Services,” he said.
The government has undergone several changes with its technology teams over the past six months. The most significant was the departure of Mike Bracken and four GDS executives, which raised questions about the future of digital transformation in the government and wider public sector.
However, Downing Street committed £450m in the Autumn Statement to bolster GDS’ efforts to make the public sector ‘digital by default’, indicating misplaced concerns about its position being marginalised.
Having said that, the government has a CTO and deputy in place but has yet to find a replacement for the chief data officer position that Bracken occupied at GDS.
This has prompted speculation about whether the government values having someone specifically in charge of collecting data and using it effectively in government, despite ambitions to make use of open data across Whitehall.
The continued lack of a chief data officer will concern organisations like the Open Data Institute which champions opening up and sharing public sector data to improve the delivery of public services.