Parliament seeks director for new digital service

Parliament has started looking for its first director for the newly created ‘Parliamentary Digital Service’.


Parliament has started looking for its first director for the newly created ‘Parliamentary Digital Service’.

The service will have about 300 staff and a budget of £30 million and will be led by the director, who will sit on the management boards of both Houses.

Parliament is also recruiting a new chief technology officer (CTO) who will report to the director, although recruitment for that role will not start until the director has been appointed, according to a spokeswoman.

One of the director’s first tasks will be to formulate and deliver a digital strategy for Parliament. They will also be responsible for the £6 million ICT investment budget.

The job advert describes it as “an exceptional opportunity” to “champion change” and “ensure that digital delivery is at the forefront of our work, across both Houses, and that the needs of our various user groups are always prioritised.”

The successful appointee will need to have “exceptional digital expertise and a record of delivery in this field” and will be required to “lead change in a complex organisation”, helping to “transform not just our parliamentary institutions but our democratic system”, it adds.

Interested individuals have until 6 October to submit applications for the role, which has a salary of about £110,000. Interviews will be held in mid-November.

‘Major effort’ needed

The two Houses of Parliament jointly agreed to replace the separate Parliamentary ICT (PICT) and Web & Intranet Service (WIS) with a new single digital service in March.

The move was one of the main recommendations in a review conducted by e-democracy charity mySociety.

The service will be responsible for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The current head of IT, Joan Miller, is due to step down this month after holding the post for almost a decade.

In its response to the mySociety report, the administration admitted: “Parliament is not properly organised to be the major digital player that we must be if we are to keep up with the game, let alone get ahead of it.

It added: “Major effort is needed simply to keep up with what is now seen as normal, never mind to achieve an exemplary service.”

365 migration headache

The Houses of Parliament were plagued by IT problems earlier this year such as screen freezing and slow e-mail delivery and web browsing during a migration to Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite.

The IT department blamed the problems on “an error in the supporting software” inadvertently introduced by one of its (unnamed) contractors.

Last week House of Commons leader William Hague told MPs that they have “nothing to fear” after John Hemming MP expressed concerns about the security of parliamentary data hosted on Microsoft’s servers in Europe.

Hague suggested US authorities wouldn’t be able to MPs’ emails because US courts can’t override EU data protection rules.

However Hemming said: “MPs should be aware that the legal position in terms of the security of their emails is either unsure or that American security services can get copies of them if they want them.”