“GDS needs to mature. Digital needs to go from being disruptive to being essential”
ex-GDS transformation director
Interviewed by Computer Weekly, Beaven shared insights into the future of the GDS. Although he wasn’t around when Bracken quit, he knows it led to difficulties for the team.
“Mike and I had a bit of a philosophical fireside chat some time toward the back end of last year. We had carried this thing for four years between us – he did the Whitehall bit, I did the convincing departments they could deliver stuff better. Someone else needed to get on with the torch-carrying and taking stuff forward. I wasn’t around for any of the drama that happened afterwards but it’s been tough for a lot of the people inside GDS. He was quite a visible and vocal strong leader,” he said.
For Beaven, new leadership – under executive director Stephen Foreshew-Cain, previously Bracken’s chief operating officer – represents a natural next step in GDS and the development of digital government.
“A lot of people at the time [Bracken left] said GDS must constantly disrupt, and I don’t agree with that. GDS needs to mature. Digital needs to go from being disruptive to being essential, that’s what needs to happen in government,” he said.
“It doesn’t need to be some kind of, ‘Oh look at that!’ It needs to be: ‘If we don’t do that, we’re screwed’.
“It needs to move into the mainstream and be part of how we do things now. My team managed to move a lot of big Whitehall departments to the point of saying: ‘We get this now – what do we need to do?’”
Bryan Glick, Editor in Chief, Computer Weekly