GDS Will ‘Not Be Broken Up’ Says New Head

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Kevin Cunnington thanks predecessor Foreshew-Cain and rejects speculation about GDS future

The new head of the Government Digital Service (GDS) has pledged it will not be broken up and that he will build on the work done by his predecessor Stephen Foreshew-Cain, who left Whitehall earlier this week.

Foreshew-Cain’s departure was seen as a sign that government would move away from a centralised digital strategy, undoing much of the work done by GDS over the past few years.

However in a blog post introducing himself, Kevin Cunnington, former director general for business transformation at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said he had no plans to rock the boat.

Read More: GDS changes signify demise of digital in government

GDS future

Kevin Cunnington GDS “I’ve read many times about the end of GDS, but it has always come back stronger than before,” he wrote. “I want to tackle one thing head on: GDS will not be broken up. We remain part of the Cabinet Office with a clear mandate to lead digital, technology and data across government.

“I say this with the support and backing of John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for Cabinet Office. By bringing me in as Director General for GDS, John is making it clear that this organisation matters, and is here to stay.

“My first priority is to get to know the team and listen to what they have to say. I want to properly understand their plans, concerns and ideas. That’s going to take a few weeks.”

He also used the post to thank Foreshew-Cain for his achievements, most notably the £450 million funding he had secured for GDS in what Manzoni described as a “challenging” spending review.

During his tenure, Foreshew-Cain also helped build Gov.UK Pay and Notify, and took Verify from beta to live

“You’ve left us in a great position,” Cunnington said of his predecessor. I want to continue the new ways of working you introduced. Thank you.”

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