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DWP IT chief Mayank Prakash quits for new job outside government

Chief digital and information officer leaves after four years in the civil service – no news yet on his successor

The IT chief at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Mayank Prakash, is leaving to take up a new role outside government.

Prakash has been in the job for four years, initially as director general of technology, before taking over as chief digital and information officer in 2016. He led a major transformation programme, bringing large-scale outsourcing contracts back in-house and moving systems to the cloud. He will leave after Christmas.

DWP has one of the largest IT estates in the UK – Prakash has said it runs 55 million lines of code – supporting 85,000 employees who serve about 22 million customers and processing £170bn in payments every year.

Prakash’s time in charge has not been without controversy. In 2016, his DWP Digital team overspent against budget by £60m in six months, leading to layoffs of hundreds of IT contractors and scaling back of some projects.

The IT systems supporting the controversial Universal Credit welfare reform programme have had problems – Prakash will leave just after the digital platform supporting the new benefit is rolled out nationwide, a project due to be completed in November. And insiders have claimed that a move to more agile working practices in DWP Digital has had its challenges.

However, in recognition of the scale of the technology overhaul at DWP, Prakash was voted the most influential person in UK IT in 2017 in Computer Weekly’s annual poll.

“The size and scale of DWP is a large challenge, but it is also a big opportunity to make a difference,” he said in an interview at the time.

“We have to balance our impatience to modernise with the need to avoid disruption to services for both our colleagues and customers, because the services are mission-critical and they impact human lives.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Mayank joined DWP four years ago and has personally driven an ambitious agenda for improving the technology that supports citizens, significantly overhauling our systems, and embedding agile design and development that has been, and will continue to be, critical to our services in DWP. We would like to thank Mayank for his significant contribution and wish him all the very best for his new role.”

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Prakash added in a statement: “It has been a privilege to lead the digitisation of DWP. I will miss working with inspirational colleagues passionate about delivering services to 22 million people. Working with brilliant civil servants who care about giving back to society has been a memorable and enjoyable learning experience. I am proud of the many achievements of colleagues and grateful to industry leaders for their partnership to transform the UK’s largest IT estate beyond recognition.

“I look forward to tracking the future digitisation of DWP’s services with keen interest and will follow with pride the great work of digital specialists at DWP.”

Prakash joined DWP in 2014 from investment bank Morgan Stanley, where he worked from 2011, with his last role there as managing director of wealth and asset management technology.

DWP has not yet announced details of a successor.

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