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Government appoints digital engagement tsar

The government's former deputy CIO Andrew Stott will help government to better use digital technologies to engage with citizens and provide online access to information
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

The government's deputy CIO has been named as the UK's first director of digital engagement.

Andrew Stott, a Cambridge graduate with a degree in mathematics and law who has been deputy CIO since September 2004, started his new job yesterday — championing digital engagement and promoting the use of web 2.0 technologies across government. One of his first tasks was to create a Twitter account for the role: @DirDigEng.

The digital engagement job has been created to drive the government's 'Power of Information Agenda', which looks at how Whitehall can make better use of digital technologies to engage with citizens, promote policy debate and provide online access to information.

Stott will therefore be responsible for implementing the Power of Information Taskforce recommendations, including training government communications staff in "the basics of social media and a modern web presence", and creating an online repository "where public information can be stored and maintained". The full list of the Taskforce's 25 final recommendations can be found here.

The government believes boosting civil servants' use of internal digital tools will improve cross-government co-ordination and collaboration and ultimately lead to better policy development and service delivery.

Stott's role also involves chairing the government's Knowledge Council and working with the National Archives to drive the Information Matters strategy for knowledge and information management. The role also carries a pay scale of between £81,000 and £160,000, according to a spokeswoman from the Cabinet Office.

As deputy government CIO, Stott already had director-level responsibility within the Cabinet Office for the Power of Information work from its inception. He was also a member of the Minister for Digital Engagement Tom Watson's Power of Information Taskforce. The Cabinet Office spokeswoman confirmed some of Stott's former duties will be carried over to the new role such as responsibility for the civil service website.

News of the appointment was announced yesterday by 'tweet' via the Cabinet Office's twitter feed: "Twitter exclusive: Andrew Stott will be first Director of Digital Engagement".

Commenting on the appointment, Watson said in a statement: "I am delighted that Andrew Stott will be leading on these vital programmes for government. His personal involvement in the development of the strategy and his Whitehall experience will be complemented by the new external high level advisory panel which will succeed the Taskforce.

"Together we will transform the way that government engages with citizens through the internet and free up government data, so that people can use public services more effectively."

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said the government will now be starting the selection process to find a new deputy CIO.

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