Interim govt CEO Digital appointed

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.

5 thoughts on “Interim govt CEO Digital appointed”

  1. It’s interesting to see this develop after Ian Watmore announced that the person they were looking for doesn’t work in government right now. Which still begs the question, who will replace the caretaker manager in the long term? And how long a term are we talking here?The grapevine has it that tomskitomski politely refused the role, although the same was said of a certain digital lead at No10.

  2. I’m afraid the grapevine is wrong on that one, LG. I have it on exceptionally good authority that Tom wasn’t offered it.

  3. Fair enough. I must say it is jolly nice of you to save the government money on press notices like this. I mean it’s not like anyone official felt the need to announce Chris being appointed. A wonderful Big Society example from puffbox if ever there was one ;D

  4. Director for Directgov and Digital Engagement, is apparently Chris’s new job title. Very interesting. Looks like Katie Davies will be giving way as interim @DirDigEng to another interim @DirDigEng!

  5. Again, I have to stress, I’ve never met the guy. But as I wrote last week, his CV is definitely technology-oriented; there’s little or no mention of anything related to ‘digital engagement’. With that in mind, he seems an unusual choice to be the Director Of Digital Engagement… unless it’s purely a practical thing, reusing the existing job title. Besides, to be blunt, Andrew Stott’s role was more about dataset publication than it ever was about ‘engagement’ in any conventional sense.

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