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Welsh government to hire chief digital officer

The £500,000 of annual funding will go towards a leader and a department dedicated to developing digital initiatives

The Welsh government has announced it will be allocating £500,000 in annual funding towards a new chief digital officer (CDO) and a delivery unit focused on digital initiatives across local government.

The funding will be for an initial three-year period, to allow the new CDO to be appointed, the unit to be built and priorities identified, as well as progress made in the new role.

The new CDO will be expected to provide leadership for digital transformation in local government, build and grow on the work that’s already underway, and also support local government in introducing technology and data-led approaches to service delivery and public engagement.

Working under the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), the CDO’s work will be overseen by their Digital Advisory Group, made up of WLGA members, chief executives’ association Solace, and professional membership body for digital and IT leaders Society, as well as other professionals and stakeholders.

In a cabinet statement, Welsh minister for housing and local government Julie James said the appointment is “seen firmly as a sector-led and owned approach, which the Welsh Government is happy to be able to provide funding in support of”.

In 2016, Scotland appointed its own CDO to lead an agenda of digitisation across local government. Martyn Wallace is the current post holder, who helped to create the Digital Office in October that same year.

Wallace is now drawing on his experience in the private sector to help develop a change in mindset in local government organisations.

Read more about IT in local government

“I think the challenge we’ve had is that digital is often viewed as a dark art or an elephant in the room,” he told Computer Weekly in May 2018.

“That perception needs to change because digital is business – it’s about people by default and technology by design.

Read more on IT for government and public sector

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