Tech

Like a challenge in a high profile ‘face-of-IT’ role? Welcome to the Home Office

For the brave – or perhaps foolhardy – senior IT jobs hunters there is an opening at the UK Home Office for a Deputy Director of IT Operations in a lovely ’70s era highrise in Croydon.

For a salary of between £71,000 and £85,000, the lucky candidate will be furnished with the opportunity of deciding which fire to try to put out first.

Excuse the pun, because high on the list might be the Emergency Services Network, that much-troubled upgrade to the fire, police and ambulance service’s mobile data and communications network, which dates back to 2011 and is yet to carry a message or call.

In September, as chief digital, data and technology officer at the Home Office, Joanna Davinson told Parliamentary spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee that delays to the troubled Emergency Services Network would create additional annual costs “in the ballpark” of £550m “across the whole of the legacy estate”.

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All that was before she was rewarded for the three years’ work on the project with a role as executive director of the UK government’s new Central Digital and Data Office.

According to the job blurb, the Home Office Deputy Director of IT Operations will play a “critical role in providing digital, data and technology services at the Home Office, supporting vital national infrastructure and Home Office services.”

The person in the role, the ad said, is supposed to support a user-base of more than 35,000 Home Office staff, as well as more than 400 public-facing services used by millions, and diverse critical business areas including UK Visa & Immigration, Border Force, HMPO and policing.

So what other fires might need dampening? (*Sticks a pin in a long list*) How about border management IT systems, which have seen £336m added to their costs due to delays and uncertainty that continue to dog the programme, according to the National Audit Office?

Getting that unruly legacy borders IT estate – which includes the Customs Declaration System (CDS) that goes back to 1994 and still has no turn-off date – under control should be no problem as the Home Office is seeking a candidate who is “strategic and forward-thinking in terms of how we engage the business and use new and existing technologies to build capability.”

“Through embedding a culture of continuous improvement,” the successful candidate would “strive to deliver better outcomes and value for money”, the gushing job ad continued. In doing so, they will “ensure that the Home Office delivers to cost and quality standards, managing risks and dependencies across multiple teams.”

Phew, we’re glad because there is another issue banging on the emergency button: the Police National Computer and the small matter of 413,000 deleted records of evidence, which Kit Malthouse, Minister of State for Crime and Policing, promised back in February to restore in 12 weeks.

About eight weeks to go then: time to get the feet under the desk.

It is a good job the Home Office bigwigs are looking to hire someone “highly focused on delivering” because the individual will also be expected to be the “face and voice” of IT Operations within the organisation, championing the function across the Digital Data and Technology group, the Home Office and wider government. Either that or sneak themselves into the asylum seekers deportation list.

The deadline for applications is 24 March. ®


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