The fate of the Cabinet Office, as well as the Government Digital Service (GDS), has been decided with the appointment of two new Cabinet Office ministers.
Matt Hancock was appointed as the minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general during prime minister David Cameron’s post-election cabinet shuffle.
This gives Hancock the same responsibilities once held by Government Digital Service (GDS) creator Francis Maude, including efficiency and reform of the public sector, government transparency and cyber security.
Also falling under Hancock’s role will be civil service issues, industrial relations strategy in the public sector, civil contingencies, civil society and UK statistics.
Maude, who is now the minister of state for trade and investment, announced earlier this year he would be stepping down, but highlighted that being involved with GDS does not require a particular seat in the houses of parliament.
The appointment is one of great importance for the IT sector, as it determines who will be in charge of further developing GDS and its “digital by default” mantra, as well as plans for a government-as-a-platform model for digital services in the future.
Read more about GDS
- The question over whether the Government Digital Service can scale locally discussed at a Computer Weekly debate on government digital policies.
- A local authority version of the Government Digital Service is “very high priority”, says Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
When asked what the IT industry wanted from the next government, an emphasis was placed on ensuring the success of GDS can be repeated on a local scale, something that would fall under the remit of Hancock in the future.
These plans were reaffirmed during the 2015 budget, as remit for GDS was extended to cover local authorities.
Previously Hancock had a role to play in the technology industry as minister of state for skills and enterprise, where he focused on delivering apprenticeships and “technical education”, as well as small businesses.
His background stems from IT, with his first pre-parliament job involving a family-run computer software business.
Also appointed was Oliver Letwin as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, placed in charge of the Cabinet Office, although it is not yet clear how the roles will be split.
A digital economy?
At the time of writing, it was still not decided whether Ed Vaizey will continue as minister of state for culture and the digital economy, responsible for broadband delivery, the digital economy and digital entrepreneurship.
At a Computer Weekly round table this year, Vaizey also backed the “ambition” for a local government on one platform, but emphasised projects of such a scale can take time.