The Prime Minister recently confirmed that data policy and governance functions would be shifted out of GDS and into DCMS, in what has been received as a controversial move by many observers - including ex-GDS chief Mike Bracken, who has said that it is now ‘harder to reform government’.
We at diginomica/government have argued that the move is largely being driven by personal agendas that recognise the opportunity for power and building new empires, rather than by the needs of citizens. Data is the future and will underpin all future digital agendas - DCMS wants control of that.
Given this context, it was interesting to see that DCMS is now recruiting for two new leads to take charge of this data agenda. A Head of Data Economy and a new Head of Data Strategy are both being advertised on the Civil Service Jobs website.
Both jobs carry a £55,000 - £66,000 salary bracket and will be on a 2 year loan or fixed term contract, with the option to extend.
The adverts both carry an introductory blurb to their individual postings, pointing to the policy challenges facing government. They state:
Data is the fuel of the digital economy and global trade. Data analysis is driving new business models, supporting innovative technologies like artificial intelligence and improving the way we deliver public services. Advances in data science will help us solve some of the biggest problems facing society, by advancing scientific research and shedding new light on old problems from congestion to cancer treatment.
Data’s importance in our modern digital economy raises big policy questions for government: how can we ensure that the benefits of the UK’s data assets reach the whole of society; do we have fair and productive data markets which support innovation and growth; how do we modernise the way in which our economy works by creating digital identities based on data rather than paperwork; do we have the right legal and ethical frameworks in place to ensure data is used appropriately and keep the public’s trust; and are we as government making the most of the data we hold to deliver better and more efficient public services.
However, the two roles have to different sets of responsibilities. The Head of Data Strategy’s responsibilities include:
- Design build and lead a team to set DCMS and HMG strategy for data
- Deliver a data strategy that is ambitious, deliverable, coherent and innovative
- Convene experts across industry and government to develop strategy and policy for data in the economy and the use of data in government
Whilst, the Head of Data Economy’s responsibilities include:
- Build and lead a new team to set strategy and policy on the use of data in the economy and in society
- Develop a robust evidence base to drive policy making in this emerging area
- Build productive links with the industry, academic and international experts to improve policy making and pave the way for delivering ambitious action by government