DWP appoints Mayank Prakash as new technology director

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has appointed Mayank Prakash as its new director general of technology

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has appointed Mayank Prakash as its new director general of technology, replacing former CIO Andy Nelson.

Prakash joins in November from investment bank Morgan Stanley, where he has been since 2011, most recently as managing director of wealth and asset management technology.

The new role is responsible for technology delivery to support the DWP’s digital services – in effect, the equivalent of the chief technology officer position found in several other Whitehall departments.

Prior to Morgan Stanley, Prakash has a background in the IT industry, serving as CIO of software firm Sage for four years, and in CIO roles at suppliers iSoft, Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to simplify welfare by transforming one of the UK’s largest IT estates to deliver easy-to-use digital services. It is a professional privilege to improve how the government delivers services to 22 million citizens,” said Prakash in a statement.

DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux added: “Mayank has a wealth of experience in leading technology and business transformation. His expertise will prove invaluable to the department.”

Prakash replaces former CIO Andy Nelson, who quit in March – just 13 months after taking the role. 

When Nelson was appointed, the CIO role was the senior IT leader in the department. However, under guidance from the Government Digital Service, many Whitehall CIOs have disappeared in favour of a digital chief alongside a CTO.

Kevin Cunnington joined as a director general of digital transformation at DWP in October 2013, and the new technology director role complements Cunnington.

Prakash will join as the DWP is under great scrutiny over its IT developments.

In June, the department started to roll out its IT transformational programme, which aims to deliver a service tower-based model to separate IT delivery into small parts. 

DWP’s outsourcing contracts with HP and Fujitsu are among the largest of the old-style mega deals signed under the Labour government in the 2000s.

An internal IT audit in January exposed major gaps between the DWP IT strategy and the wider government digital strategy. It also showed failings in IT architecture and a lack of performance measures to track the success of DWP’s technology and how well it supports the department’s overall business objectives.

The department has come under fire, in particular, over its Universal Credit welfare reform programme, where roll-out has slowed to its lowest uptake since the early days of the policy.

The IT underpinning Universal Credit was widely criticised by MPs and the National Audit Office in 2013 after wasting £40.1m of IT work, with a further £91m to be written off over a five-year period. 

This means that by the time Universal Credit is fully rolled out in 2017/2018, at least £131.1m of the planned £397m IT spend on the current system will have been thrown away.

The project has since been overhauled and restarted, with Cunnington leading work on a new digital system to replace the software developed for the initial roll-out.

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