The 2017 general election sent shockwaves throughout the government, and the digital department was no exception.
Ben Gummer, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of digital transformation, lost his marginal Ipswich seat in one of the biggest upsets of the evening.
Gummer was one of the driving forces behind the release of the Government Transformation Strategy in February, and his exit adds major uncertainty to the government's digital plans.
The departure of Gummer is the biggest loss to the government's digital team since that of Government Digital Service (GDS) executive director Stephen Foreshew-Cain in 2016. Foreshew-Cain was one of a spate of senior figures to leave GDS in just a short period of time, including that of his predecessor Mike Bracken in 2015 .
Bracken helped set the unit up in 2011, and his resignation was followed by those of several other GDS staff members.
1. Ben Gummer: Minister in charge of digital transformation
When Sandy Martin won Ipswich for Labour at the 2017 general election, the Conservative party lost an MP, its Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, one of the chief architects of its manifesto, and its minister in charge of digital transformation.
Previous incumbent Ben Gummer was a key figure behind the launch of the Government Transformation Strategy, which was finally released in February after numerous delays. Gummer called it the foundation of "a revolution in the way we deliver public services" when he announced it. His exist has increased the calls for a minister for digital government to drive the digital agenda forward and replace the political leadership missing since Lord Francis Maude stood down from his role of Minister for the Cabinet Office in 2015.
2. Stephen Foreshew-Cain: GDS executive director
GDS lost its second leader in a year when
Stephen Foreshew-Cain left the organisation in 2016 to become chief operating officer for digital at the Co-op after just one year in the position.
He had some significant successes during his short time in the role, including building a new leadership team at GDS, two new common services in GOV.UK Pay and GOV.UK Notify , and taking GOV.UK Verify from beta to live. He previously spent another year at GDS as chief operating officer at GDS, during which he helped develop it into an established government organisation.
3. Mike Bracken: government digital director
The most-discussed departure of recent years was that of
Mike Bracken in 2015. He helped set up GDS in July 2011, after leading digital development at the Guardian.
He has been a
towering figure in the digital world since, leading the development of GOV.UK, helping to digitise services and pushing for public services to catch up with the internet era.
Bracken's departure was
linked to civil service plans to 'drastically' cut the GDS budget and headcount.
4. Andy Beale: GDS CTO
Andy Beale resigned from his position as
GDS Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in October 2016, just months after starting the job in April of that year.
Beale joined GDS in 2013 as deputy director of government technology, where he played a key role in developing the common IT design and delivery service known as Common Technology Services (CTS). He was promoted to deputy CTO in February 2016 before replacing Liam Maxwell as GDS CTO later that year, where he led IT spending reform and the cross-functional commercial, programme, and technology strategy. The role of CTO has remained unfilled since his departure.
5. Tom Loosemore: deputy GDS director
Tom Loosemore joined the government in the same year as Bracken and played a leading role in the creation of GDS. Before that he worked in digital roles at Channel 4 and the BBC.
In government, Loosemore helped to oversee a number of projects within GDS and across departments. He has been particularly acclaimed for helping to develop a new, digital solution for otherwise-troubled welfare reform project
Universal Credit. Loosemore announced plans to leave the government just a few days after Bracken, without any planned role to go to.
"In the 21st century, the public deserves better than the 19th-century institutions of Whitehall are capable of delivering," he wrote in a
6. Ben Terrett: design director
© Flickr/Ben Terrett
Ben Terrett was one of the early hires at GDS, joining in December 2011. He built and led the team that designed
GOV.UK, which won the Design of the Year award and a D&AD Black Pencil in 2013. He also helped to improve digital design capability across Whitehall. Terrett announced his resignation on the same day as Loosemore, similarly without another job to go to.
"I have never worked with a smarter group of people. I have never worked with a group of people so dedicated to making stuff better," Terrett said of GDS, in a
7. Leisa Reichelt: head of user research
© Vimeo/Mind The Product
Leisa Reichelt joined GDS in June 2013 to lead its user research teams, helping to nudge GDS and public servants across government to properly engage users and build services around them.
A well respected figure within the UX community, Reichelt is leaving GDS to go back to her native Australia after ten years in the UK.
She will join the Australian government's Digital Transformation Office, working with user researchers, designers, accessibility experts and data analysts, she said in a blog post.
8. Russell Davies: strategy director
© Alex Murrell
Russell Davies was appointed creative strategy director at GDS in July 2013 but was involved with the service since its early days, helping to set up GOV.UK and make it easier for users to navigate.
Like Loosemore and Reichelt, he has no job to go to. Davies plans to walk from one coast of the UK to another at the end of October, according to his
9. Mike Beaven: transformation director
© YouTube/Government Digital Service
A month after Bracken’s departure, GDS transformation director Mike Beaven announced he was leaving government to join Methods Digital, a consultancy group.
Beaven was one of the original GDS crew, joining in August 2011, and was in charge of its '
digital exemplar' programme, which redesigned and digitised 20 government services.
blog post on LinkedIn he described his team’s work as ‘ground breaking’, saying ‘no one had attempted anything like the breadth of change in government before’ and paying tribute to colleagues in GDS and cross departments.