The government has appointed Stephen Foreshew-Cain as the new head of the Government Digital Service (GDS), following the departure of Mike Bracken and four other senior staff.
Foreshew-Cain (pictured), previously chief operations officer at GDS, revealed his appointment to the new role in a blog post titled Keep calm and carry on.
"I've been running GDS for a year, now I'm stepping up to lead it," he said. "I've been here since April 2014. You haven't heard much from me since I arrived (in fact this is my very first GDS blog post). [GDS chief technology officer] Liam Maxwell refers to me as the ‘gaffer', but really I joined GDS to ensure we have a clear plan for digital delivery across government and that we are delivering to it."
As the new head of GDS, Foreshew-Cain will be responsible for overseeing major digital initiatives across government, including the creation and deployment of government-as-a-platform.
Foreshew-Cain's appointment comes as other civil servants resign from prominent posts at GDS, following the surprise announcement that Mike Bracken is leaving the government to join the Co-op Group.
Head of user research Leisa Reichelt, deputy director Tom Loosemore, director of strategy Russell Davies and design director Ben Terrett all revealed their decision to quit in a series of blog posts on their own websites.
Reichelt is returning to Australia to work for the government's Digital Transformation Office, but Loosemore, Terrett and Davies do not have any current plans after leaving GDS.
To answer loads of people in one go. No, I really really don't know what I'm going to do next (and I'm OK with that) http://t.co/KyfnuGZtci— Tom Loosemore (@tomskitomski) August 11, 2015
Each paid tribute to the teams they worked with at GDS, singling Bracken out for guiding their work and putting a digital-first ethos into the heart of government.
"I've learned an incredible amount and had the opportunity to do so many new things. Massive thanks to Martha for the plan, to Mike for the delivery and to Francis for the support. Best. Bosses. Ever," said Davies.
The departures will lead to new fears that the government's digital efforts are falling by the wayside. The departure of Bracken came after Francis Maude stepped down as Cabinet Officer minister.
Foreshew-Cain reassured readers that the exodus of civil servants from GDS does not mark the end of digital transformation in government into the public sector, and instead opens up opportunities for others.
"We know that this is the right time for new leaders to stand up, and for some to move on. We also know we have a talented team, ready to take us through the next phase," he said.
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