Government appoints former Credit Suisse CIO as deputy CTO

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Government appoints former Credit Suisse CIO as deputy CTO

Caroline Baldwin

The government has appointed former Credit Suisse CIO Magnus Falk as its new deputy chief technology officer (CTO).

Falk will join the team responsible for government technology and delivering digital services to citizens. He is due to start his new role on 2 September and will report to government CTO Liam Maxwell.

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According to his LinkedIn profile, Falk worked his way up to CIO at Credit Suisse, where he began as a programme manager in 1996. He left the financial services company in 2012, and has been an independent consultant and interim manager since.

The Cabinet Office said it has seen 100 digital and technology experts join government departments over the past 12 months.

Led by the Government Digital Service (GDS), the recruitment has seen experts join to fill a variety of technical roles, as well as to strengthen digital leadership across Whitehall. Roles include chief digital officers (CDO) and CTOs, as well as technical architects and developers who are working to transform government digital services for citizens.  

Departments which have had new technology experts include the Cabinet Office, Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

Many of those recruited – like Falk – have come in from high-profile public sector jobs. Jacqueline Steed – the former managing director and CIO for BT Wholesale – is due to start as the CDO at the Student Loan Company (SLC) in September.

A number of other recent appointments have come from the private sector, including former CIO at Electrolux Ian Sayer taking the role of MOJ CTO, former CIO of Vodafone Mark Dearnley taking the role of HMRC CIO, as well as Kevin Cunnington, previously global head of online at Vodafone, taking up the DWP’s CDO position.

Mike Bracken, executive director of digital for the Cabinet Office, who himself came from The Guardian, said technology leaders who have been hired in recent months – including Sayer, Dearnley and Cunnington – are expected to work together to share experiences and lessons learned.

“The transformation of government digital services, and the technology that underpins it, is a compelling proposition. By creating an environment in which this kind of change can happen, government is now able to attract technical experts who want to do work that matters," he said.  

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude added: “As part of our long-term economic plan, bringing in digital and technology experience and expertise is just one of the ways in which we are creating a world-class, 21st-century civil service capable of leading change and delivering the best for Britain.”

Transformation

GDS is 18 months into its transformation project to move 25 of the most used government services online.

The ambitious project began in January 2013, allowing 400 working days to complete the transformation of 25 services – from visa applications to benefit claims – which were identified as the first candidates to be redeveloped. By the end of the 400-day period, the 25 exemplars should be live or in the last stage of public testing. 

The government claims digitising public services will make cumulative savings of £1.2bn in this Parliament, rising to an estimated £1.7bn per year after 2015.

GDS employment contracts

However, Computer Weekly recently reported that almost 60% of employees at GDS could be gone within 12 months of the 2015 general election, posing a huge risk to the next government’s digital plans.

Of 301 employees at GDS, 176 are on fixed-term contracts, all of which are due to terminate within 12 months of a new administration taking power, according to a freedom of information request by Computer Weekly.

If a new government comes into power in May 2015, it could decide not to renew the remaining contracts as they expire – equally, if those employees don’t agree with new policies set out, they could choose to leave at the end of their contract period.

Labour has since committed to GDS, saying it will build on the work and services it has already produced if the party comes into power. The party also said it will keep GDS staff if they wish to stay.


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