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Interim GDS boss gives preview of priorities

Alison Pritchard sets out key areas of attention for the digital service, from analytics to Brexit work

The interim director general at the Government Digital Service (GDS) has given a preview of the priorities for her team over the coming months under her temporary watch.

In an introductory blog post where she outlined her focus on service delivery, Pritchard reiterated her key goal was to “accelerate momentum” on the digital unit, with work around the UK’s exit from the European Union being a crucial part of what the GDS will be working on.

“[Brexit] is a huge part of our current effort and it’s exhilarating to be at the very heart of preparations and support,” noted Pritchard, who was previously director for EU exit and transformation at the GDS prior to taking on the leadership role.

Another focus for Pritchard is “setting the boldest goals for digital advancement across government”, with data analytics, digital identity and “embedding of innovation” being major areas of attention.

“To do that, we need the right resource, capability, powers and influence,” she noted.

This comes at a time when the GDS appears to be losing momentum, with “significant culture issues” and lack of political support meaning it has stopped supporting departments to do the right thing.

Pritchard previously commented on how Brexit preparation required more digital, data and technology professionals across departments. She has also helped drive initiatives such as upskilling of staff through the GDS academy and building a framework for digital, data and technology (DDaT) across government.

Supporting the process of finding a permanent leader for GDS is another central aspect of the work Pritchard will carry out under her temporary role at the digital service.

“I have a duty to [find a permanent GDS director-general] in a way that we don’t miss a beat and so we can springboard into the future state for digital government,” she said.

Pritchard started her career in the civil service as a systems analyst and systems designer at the Ministry of Defence, where she coded the system that managed the location of military assets.

She was brought in last month as a temporary replacement for Kevin Cunnington, who left the GDS in July to head a new government unit, the International Government Service, focused on promoting UK public services globally.

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