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Government hires Guardianista as digital chief

'Prize on offer too great to ignore'

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The government has hired Mike Bracken as its new digital boss.

Bracken, who up until last week held the role of digital development director at the Guardian newspaper, will be based in the Cabinet Office from 5 July.

He is tasked with improving UK.gov's "online presence" as well as extending the number of public services available via the interwebs.

Bracken will report to the government's COO Ian Watmore, and will be responsible for over 100 digital service staff.

Bracken's arrival comes several months after the Cabinet Office undertook a wide-ranging shake-up of its digital team.

In January this year, Joe Harley was appointed as the government's new IT boss. He replaced John Suffolk, who resigned from his £207,000 Chief Information Officer post at the end of last year.

The Coalition lost Andrew Stott, its previous director of digital engagement, at the end of 2010. He was replaced by interim director Katie Davies who was previously at the Identity and Passport Service.

Jayne Nickalls – who headed up the Directgov site – surprisingly quit her job in November, after five years with the service. Her departure signalled the arrival of digital darling Martha Lane Fox, who advised the government to rethink its online strategy.

Last month the deputy director of the government's so-called G-Cloud programme, Andrew Tait, quit in favour of a job at VMware.

Bracken, whose new salary is £142,000, joined the Guardian in 2008. He led the launch of the paper's Open Platform project.

His job shuffles several previous roles into one big hat. Bracken will take on the work left absent by Nickalls, as well as lead "cross-government digital reform work", and help steer UK.gov's digital engagement and transparency strategy.

“While there is a great deal to do, I am convinced that if we attract new digital skills, adopt user-first principles and work collaboratively within government and with a wider, more agile supplier base, then we can improve how citizens interact with government," said Bracken. “We will need to collaborate, be open and quick to adopt new technologies and continually learn from users and their experiences, and it will take backing from all corners, but the prize on offer is simply too great to ignore.” ®

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