DWP appoints former Boots IT chief Richard Corbridge as CDIO

In his new role as the chief digital and information officer for the Department for Work and Pensions, Corbridge will be responsible for a £1.4bn annual budget

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has hired Richard Corbridge as its new chief digital and information officer (CDIO).

The department began its search for a new CDIO in August 2022 following the announcement that former digital boss Simon McKinnon was retiring. The role was advertised with a salary up to £200,000 a year.

In his director-general level position, Corbridge will be responsible for managing an annual budget of £1.4bn to drive forward the department’s digital ambitions and will report directly to DWP permanent secretary Peter Schofield.

Schofield said he was “delighted” to appoint Corbridge to the position: “Rich has extensive experience in leading major digital transformation projects in retail and the public sector. He has held several senior information and digital technology positions, including roles at Boots, Leeds NHS Trust, eHealth Ireland, and the National Institute for Health Research,” he said.

“I want to thank Simon McKinnon for his valuable contribution to this role and the department and wish him well in his retirement.”

Corbridge will join DWP on 11 April from Boots, where he has been since 2019.  First as director of innovation, before being asked to also fulfil a specialist role from the start of 2020, where he investigated how Boots could transition many of the high street services it offers and make them available to customers online. In August 2020, he took on the CIO role at the chemist.

Corbridge said he was “thrilled to be joining DWP, an amazing organisation that is on an exciting digital journey”.

"I’m looking forward to meeting lots of people in my first few weeks and finding out more about this amazing machine,” he said. “The next few years will bring fresh digital challenges and innovative developments and I relish the chance to be at the DWP Digital helm.”  

Corbridge will be responsible for shaping the department’s digitalisation strategy, building “sustainable digital capability” across DWP.  

DWP Digital transacts £170bn a year, manages 50 million lines of code and operates one of Europe’s largest IT estates.

Prior to his stint at Boots, Corbridge was the CIO of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, where he was on a mission to improve the way the organisation and staff used data to improve clinical care.

“Throughout my career, I’ve tried to suggest that we shouldn’t collect information to count beans, and yet we often do that in healthcare because of the need to monitor costs,” Corbridge said in an interview with Computer Weekly in 2018, while he was CIO at the trust.

“We need to get to a position where we collect information to deliver better service to the patient. And by collecting that information, it can then be reused for that bean-counting element and to improve clinical research, too.” 

He joined the trust after three years as CIO for the Health Service Executive in Ireland and CEO of eHealth Ireland. Corbridge was previously CIO at the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Network between 2011 and 2014.

Outgoing IT chief McKinnon led DWP Digital since January 2019, overseeing the huge project to move away from being a largely outsourced department, gradually moving services and products in-house.

In a 2021 interview with Computer Weekly, McKinnon said the DWP had moved from being largely a supplier management function to become a “fairly modern IT function”.

In May 2022, McKinnon launched the department’s three-year Digital Future strategy, aiming to reimagine digital services and make them more personal, accurate and efficient.

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