Prime minister strips government data function from GDS

Cabinet Office loses responsibility for data policy, governance, and sharing across government

Government

The data policy and governance functions of the Government Digital Service (GDS) will be transferred to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) from the Cabinet Office, UK prime minister Theresa May has announced.

In a written statement, May said that the transfer includes responsibility for data sharing (including coordination of Part 5 of the Digital Economy Act 2017), data ethics, open data and data governance.

She added that at the same time policy responsibility for digital signatures will move from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to DCMS, which will also jointly lead with BEIS on the relationship with the Open Data Institute, Digital Catapult and The Alan Turing Institute. The changes are effective from 1 April.

"The expanded Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport brings together in one place data policy for both government and the wider economy," said the prime minister. "This will support work, led by DCMS, to ensure the UK is fully realising the benefits of the data economy for all."

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She added: "GDS will continue its work supporting the ongoing digital transformation of government, building digital capability in the civil service, and championing service-design across government to meet user needs."

She also confirmed that strategic geospatial data policy initiatives from BEIS and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be consolidated into the Cabinet Office from 1 April to "support the work" of the Geospatial Commission.

In a tweet, former GDS chief Mike Bracken this was the end of a "central UK authority for digital, data and technology".

"Whitehall power structure more important than user needs," he said.

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