Who said there were no ‘senior strategic web roles’ in government? The Cabinet Office has just issued a job advert, looking for someone to ‘develop a strategy and implementation plan for extending digital engagement across Government’, and ‘act as head of profession for civil servants working on digital engagement’. It’s a Senior Civil Service Pay Band 2 position – ie very senior indeed, ‘accountable to the Permanent Secretary – Government Communications (Matt Tee) and to the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Tom Watson)’. Oh, and the money’s not bad either: starting salary of £120,000, plus 30 days holiday.
On paper at least, the resources available aren’t great: the job spec promises only a ‘small team’ and a ‘small budget’. But regular readers will know I’m actually quite happy to see that – and the spec justifies it beautifully, saying one of the role’s key purposes is ‘to assist Government in making effective use of current digital spend, which runs into many millions, and to enable departments to save significant sums on their engagement activities through switching from expensive face to face and postal methods to cheaper digital techniques.’ Perfect.
On the flipside, the demands are sky-high. ‘This is not a role for a generalist,’ it warns – a statement clearly intended to scare off the bog-standard civil servant seeking promotion. ‘The professional skills required are formidable… Within a year the Director of Digital engagement should be able to point to two departments whose use of digital engagement are recognised in the digital community as being world class. Within two years the use of world class digital engagement techniques should be embedded in the normal work of Government.’
The applicants’ information pack spells out some specific qualities they’re after:
- Is a highly credible individual in digital communications
- Has run a public facing web site of significant size, for example for a broadscaster or newspaper; or has been a leading figure in getting a large organisation to engage through digital channels.
- Has innovated in web, beyond ‘web publishing’ and can demonstrate concrete personal examples of changing how organisations carry out their core functions using digital channels
- Understands the technology and software that enable excellent web development, and has experience of advising on its procurement and deployment
- Has experience of achieving change through influence, especially with policy and delivery officials
- Has the authority to be credible with Ministers and senior officials
- Has experience of the workings of Government
So who’s going to get it? It might appeal to people like DJ Collins, Google’s European comms director (with good Labour connections); or ex-BBC chief Ashley Highfield, although he’s just started a new job with Microsoft… but it’s probably a significant pay cut for those guys. Then again, whoever takes the job will have to be doing it for the love of it, not for the money.