Four more GDS execs leave Whitehall

Whitehall street sign outside the Cabinet Office

An additional four executives of the Government Digital Service have decided to leave Whitehall following the departure of its chief, Mike Bracken.

Tom Loosemore, deputy director, Ben Terrett, director of design, Leisa Reichelt, head of user research and Russell Davies, director of strategy have all stood down from their posts - some with new jobs to go to, others without.

Bracken, also Whitehall's chief data officer, said he had decided to leave both his posts after only handing in his notice last week to the chief executive of the civil service, John Manzoni.

He was instrumental in starting the digital transformation of the government, including establishing new procurement frameworks such as the G-Cloud, to promote the use of cloud services from smaller suppliers and the concept of Government-as-a-Platform, touted as a model to replace costly outsourced IT projects with platforms that can be shared across different departments.

Loosemore said in a blog the government wasn't ready for the sort of changes that need to happen in order to become more competitive. "In the UK, theimperative ofsuch a radical re-invention of the civil service is yetto be recognised.It will require bold, brave, reforming leadership from the centre; leadership with the conviction, commitment and authorityrequired to successfully challenge the shape, the size and the dominant culture ofWhitehall," he wrote.

Davies has decided to semi-retire, saying he was getting old and following the departure of Bracken, it was time for him to move on too.

Terrett didn't give his reasons for leaving, although had nothing but praise for the GDS and how design is welcomed in the institution. "Being a civil servant and using your talents to help the people in your country is an honour.

"In an industry so often obsessed with novelty and persuasion, government is a chance to do real design work. If the government started a fast stream programme for design grads it would start to change the industry and make services better at the same time," he wrote on his blog.

Meanwhile, Reichelt has decided to head back to her native Australia to join the country's own Digital Transformation Office. "It has been a real privilege to be a part of the team at GDS," she said. "I've learned a lot from my time working with this talented and dedicated team, and being a part of government in the UK. I'm proud of what we have achieved."

Stephen Foreshew-Cain, COO of GDS wrote in a blog post: "All of GDS is incredibly grateful for the energy, leadership and direction (and stickers) Tom, Ben and Russell have given us over the past 5 years and we will miss them very much."

"We know that this is the right time for new leaders to stand up, and for some to move on. We also know we have a talented team, ready to take us through the next phase," Foreshaw-Cain continued.

"Alongside making sure we continue to deliver our priorities this year, our focus is on gearing up for the Spending Review, and getting a settlement that will enable us to drive the government's digital agenda forward."

This article was originally written on August 3rd, announcing Bracken's resignation, but has since been updated to reflect recent events.