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GDS loses yet another senior leader as CTO Andy Beale quits

Government Digital Service chief technology officer Andy Beale is the fifth senior executive to leave since appointment of new chief Kevin Cunnington

Yet another senior leader in the Government Digital Service (GDS) has quit. Chief technology officer Andy Beale, who stepped into the role in April, resigned last week, say insiders, and colleagues in GDS were told this week.

Beale took over as CTO from Liam Maxwell, who moved to become the UK’s first national technology advisor. He initially joined GDS in 2013 as deputy director of government technology, before being promoted to deputy CTO in February 2016. Prior to GDS, Beale was technology director at newspaper publisher Guardian News and Media.

Beale led much of the early work on what is now known as Common Technology Services (CTS), a strategic programme to roll out new technology for civil servants, replacing the ageing PC and legacy infrastructure across Whitehall.

CTS has since been taken over by Iain Patterson, former DVLA CTO, who is now director of CTS.

Beale’s departure is another blow to GDS after losing four other senior leaders since Kevin Cunnington was appointed as director general of the organisation in August 2016.

Computer Weekly understands that another senior manager at GDS also left recently – Susana Berlevy, who, as human resources (HR) director for the digital, data and technology profession, was in charge of a programme to define new civil service job descriptions and career paths for IT professionals.

Cunnington’s predecessor, Stephen Foreshew-Cain, left soon after the announcement that Cunnington was being brought in over his head. Two weeks later, Janet Hughes, director of the Gov.uk Verify identity assurance programme and head of strategy, policy and departmental engagement at GDS, also walked out.

Computer Weekly revealed earlier in October that Paul Maltby, the GDS director of data, was also leaving later this year when his secondment from the Home Office concludes.

Burlevy and Beale, along with Hughes and Maltby, were part of Foreshew-Cain's nine-strong GDS management team, which means that more than half of the leadership team have announced they are leaving in less than three months.

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Among other things, Beale was involved in running GDS’s spending controls – the mechanism by which GDS approves digital projects in Whitehall departments. However, those controls are under review and Cunnington has admitted that they will be relaxed.

“Andy Beale will continue to work at GDS until the New Year and help Kevin Cunnington and the rest of the team guide GDS’s future strategy. We are grateful to him for everything he has done at GDS to shape a digital future for everyone,” said a Cabinet Office spokesperson.

“Kevin will work with the rest of the team and across government to decide how to replace Andy’s expertise and deliver the GDS mission to support, enable and assure all transformation work across government.”

Insiders have previously suggested that senior figures in GDS are unhappy about Cunnington bringing in some of his former direct reports in the Department for Work and Pensions to take over key responsibilities in GDS.

Cunnington is working on his government digital transformation strategy, due to be published by the end of 2016, which will outline his plans and priorities and confirm how GDS will support the work of departments on their own digital developments.

The departure of another senior executive from GDS will inevitably raise further questions about morale and leadership in the organisation. ... ... ...

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