Although I don’t believe there’s been any kind of formal announcement yet, I’ve had it confirmed from various well-placed sources that Chris Chant, the Cabinet Office’s programme director for cloud computing (salary £125-129.9k), has been named as ‘interim’ CEO for Digital – the all-powerful position recommended by Martha Lane Fox in her review of Directgov:
a new CEO for Digital in the Cabinet Office with absolute authority over the user experience across all government online services (websites and APIs) and the power to direct all government online spending.
I don’t know Chris at all, but it’s hard to imagine a richer CV – HMRC, Government Gateway, Defra, London 2012, and currently, the man tasked with finding massive IT savings in the cloud. Everyone I’ve spoken to is complimentary, using words like decisive and bullish: this is good. But I understand he’s a Spurs fan. So, you know, swings and roundabouts.
It’s unquestionably a technical rather than a comms / editorial appointment… which shouldn’t come as a surprise in the current context of budget cuts and technology-driven opportunities. (And incidentally, I’m told that’s very much in line with Ian Watmore’s perspective on things.) But in that regard, you wonder what distinction there is between this new CEO Digital role, and the government CIO position recently vacated by John Suffolk… not to mention the various other IT management bodies around Whitehall, and within departments. I suppose it depends how he chooses to wield his ‘absolute’ power.
I don’t see much evidence of an online footprint: he was briefly active on Twitter over the summer, but hasn’t posted anything since August.