Innovation and changeGovernment TechnologyGovernment struggling to fill chief data and security roles

Government struggling to fill chief data and security roles

Recruitment for government chief data officer and chief security officer roles fails.

The government is still to recruit a new chief data officer (CDO) and chief security officer (CSO), according to Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden.

The search for a government CDO has been ongoing for more than two years, following the departure in 2015 of former Government Digital Service (GDS) boss Mike Bracken, who held the CDO role for a short while. Paul Maltby, the government’s data czar, held responsibility for a short while before moving on in 2016.

The government transformation strategy, published in 2017, detailed plans for CDO recruitment. However, a recruit is yet to be found, potentially due to a change in priorities at a senior level in government, although Dowden does insist the post remains open.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Jo Platt, junior shadow Cabinet Office minister about CDO recruitment, Dowden 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, chaired by the chief executive of the Civil Service.”

Dowden recently revealed that the government has so far failed to hire a £150,000-a-year chief security officer after commencing recruitment in May 2018. At the time, the role was billed as “the biggest and most important security job in the UK”. The search continues but has now shifted to finding somebody on a temporary basis.

Platt commented: “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.”

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