So, the announcement has been made, and the new Director of Digital Engagement is Andrew Stott.
Andrew is currently Government Deputy Chief Information Officer. He has had director-level oversight within the Cabinet Office for the Power of Information work from its inception and was a member of the Minister for Digital Engagement’s Power of Information Taskforce.
The reaction to the appointment has been mixed, some pleased that a guy with clear ability at driving stuff through government has the job; others less pleased that the director isn’t someone from outside the Whitehall bubble.
Here’s some of the reaction from the blogs:
Paul Canning asks ‘Did no one qualified want to be the government’s digital director?’
However another insider confirmed to me privately that the real reason Stott may have the appointment is simply that strong candidates from outside Whitehall with web 2.0 experience didn’t apply.
Simon Dickson wonders where the inspiration lies:
There’s…general (but for the record, not universal) consensus that Stott will be a ‘safe pair of hands’. Of course he meets the criteria of having ‘the authority to be credible with Ministers and senior officials’ and ‘experience of the workings of Government’. But there’s little evidence – and I stress, evidence – of his fit with some of the other supposedly essential criteria. If he has ‘run a public facing web site of significant size’, or ‘innovated in web, beyond web publishing’, the web itself doesn’t have much information about it.
Emma Mulqueeny is more positive:
To be honest, I rather thought that this would be given to some super clever bod from outside government, who would come at the job with a wealth of experience, challenging ideas and determination to ‘make stuff happen’. Then, as so often happened before, said person would begin to flag in the face of the enormity of the expectations of the job, burned out within a year to 18 months and left to go and do something else, broken.
Well… that won’t happen now; so this job that seemed a bit of a ‘nod in the right direction, but basically impossible’ is actually not that at all. If they wanted it to be that, they would not have appointed Andrew.
Nick Booth asks what we can do to help Andrew in his new job:
My first thoughts are the most obvious.
1. Join the conversation. Assuming Andrew want’s to engage with us, take the time to give him useful help.
2. Offer him a mentor or two? Is that cheeky? I hope not. Who would be ripe for that role?
3. Make sure he knows he’s surrounded by a substantial community that wants POIT to succeed.
Andrew Lewin is rather pleased:
I think many – including myself, if I’m honest – expected a new face from the private sector to make a bold splash and shake everything up. Which, to be honest, wasn’t a very appealing prospect to those of us who have been plugging away at this for a while now and thinking that we were finally getting some real progress on many fronts. To suddenly change direction and start all over again would have been both irritating and time-consuming, just when there is no time to waste. This appointment means we should be able to get on with things, but with a high profile person at the head of things to drive it forward still faster.
I’ll be watching the Digital Engagement blog (why didn’t they just use this one? 😉 ) and Twitter feed to find out what the new Director will be doing.
My advice would be to seize the initiative, set out some small but important things to achieve and make them happen, to get the doubters back onside as soon as possible.
More views, one very positive from Harry, and another from Neil.