GDS future questioned again as Stephen Foreshew-Cain leaves a year after being appointed
Stephen Foreshew-Cain is leaving his role as chief of the Government Digital Service (GDS) – almost exactly a year since he was promoted to replace Mike Bracken.
Foreshew-Cain, who has held positions at ITV, Accenture, Capgemini and ThoughtWorks in the past, had been with GDS since April 2014 and served as chief operating officer (COO) before taking the top job.
His appointment coincided with the departure of not just Bracken, but a number of other key figures, leading to some questioning the future of GDS.
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However under Foreshew-Cain’s tenure, the government pledged to invest £1.8 billion in ‘digital transformation’, of which £450 million was earmarked for the GDS, in what was interpreted a sign of support for the division.
It’s now unclear what the future direction for GDS will be. As recently as May 2016, he spoke of a civil service “revolution” comparable only to its creation in the 19th century and that by 2030 some parts of Whitehall wouldn’t exist. But now, he has left.
“It was clear from the outset that this dedicated, brilliant and passionate group were doing something really special — not just inside government, not just in the UK, but anywhere in the world,” he said in a blog post, which praised Bracken, former Cabinet Minister Francis Maude and Martha Lane-Fox among others. “I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of that.
“I’m confident that I’m leaving a strong team of capable leaders in GDS to see the job through. The leadership team in Alex Holmes, Wendy Coello, Chris Ferguson, Janet Hughes, Iain Patterson, Olivia Neal, Andy Beale, Susana Burlevy and Paul Maltby are the right team to continue to mission of transforming government. I’m incredibly proud to see this team of leaders emerge and step up to the plate.”
John Manzoni, chief executive of the Civil Service, praised Foreshew-Cain’s achievements in building Gov.UK Pay and Notify, taking Verify from beta to live and for securing the additional funding in a “challenging” spending review.
“As Executive Director, Stephen has led and overseen a period of outstanding delivery and achievement,” he said. “Stephen built a new leadership team at GDS and continued to provide supportive, environment for the team to excel at what it does.
“I want to thank Stephen for his dedication, commitment and resilience, and for his contribution to making government work better for users. I am really proud to have worked with Stephen, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.”
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