UK Government Director of Digital Engagement: poisoned chalice?

Here is a job I might have applied for if I were in London: Director of Digital Engagement:

Develop a strategy and implementation plan for extending digital engagement across Government

But I’m quite glad not to be eligible. Here are some phrases from the job description that should give pause for thought to anyone with experience of Government:

… You will manage a small team, directly, but will have to manage relationships with a wide group of senior officials across Government. This will require developing working arrangements in which departmental officials feel they are accountable to the Head of Digital Engagement without the benefit of a formal line management arrangement…..

… you will have to develop these relationships from scratch in a pressured environment in which Ministerial expectations of delivery are high.

… You will have a small budget

… Within two years the use of world class digital engagement techniques should be embedded in the normal work of Government

Or, in plain English, the post will have no staff, no budget, no power, and yet Ministers expect you to see to it that within two years the UK Government will make world class use of digital engagement.

Good luck to whoever gets this job!

Published by Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and

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  1. I cannot think of a better candidate. And, yes, the challenges are very clear and upfront. I wonder though if the current “downturn” will give this agenda an added push: the civil service will need to meet the fiscal challenge somehow and hasn’t IT always been the salvation?!

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