How can we help Andrew Stott as Director of Digital Engagement?

Andrew Stott is moving from being the Government’s Deputy Chief Information Officer to the new post of Director of Digital Engagement.  He’s just become key to the world of social media, data mashing, government and democratic shift.

Titles like Chief information Officer make me shudder a little. I’m not even a fan of knowledge management as a term – it seems to over formalise how we share what we know.  One thing that looks very promising is his depth of experience with geographical information.  The Guardian rather oddly described him as an “experienced Press Officer”.  Jimmy Leach at The Independent summed him up as:  “entering from the IT angle, rather than from the social media angle as others have pointed out.”  So I went looking for reassurance that he will also be a champion of people,  conversation, connection and collaboration: Dod’s interviewed Andrew last year and quoted him as saying:

The Treasury’s refurbishment, Stott says, with a big coffee area right in the heart of the department, “has created a culture of ad hoc meetings where you bump into other people. It is not just about smart IT; it is about getting people talking to one another.” The Information Matters strategy lists the new GCHQ building as another example of where communication, accidental meetings and face-to-face time have been made the norm. “It is compelling,” says Ceeney, “they have very consciously changed their whole culture from one of ‘need to know’ to one of ‘need to share’.”

The new job will be:

  • implementation of the Power of Information Taskforce recommendations
  • chairing the Government’s Knowledge Council and working with The National Archives to take forward the Information Matters strategy for Knowledge and Information Management
  • increasing the civil service’s use of internal digital tools to improve  cross Government coordination and collaboration as an aid to better policy development and service delivery
  • the civil service website

Can I help Andrew Stott?

My first thoughts are the most obvious.

  1. Join the conversation. Assuming Andrew wants to engage with us, take the time to give him useful help.
  2. Offer him a mentor or two? Is that cheeky? I hope not. Who would be ripe for that role?
  3. Make sure he knows he’s surrounded by a substantial community that wants POIT to succeed.

This extra tip came from Josie Fraser:

and there’s loads of other reaction here:

Other blogs writing about this:

Puffbox. Andrew Lewin. Demsoc. Paul Canning. Emma Mulqueeny. Dave Briggs. Neil Williams. Harry Metcalfe: the next morning Andrew showed up at the office having spent all the previous evening writing a bunch of code to take the nasty XML and make it into useful data. Helen Nicol. Paul Evans.


  1. Alice Casey says:

    I welcome the appointment of a ‘director of digital engagement’, but am confused as to what this new post is actually going to mean for citizens.

    Is it all about transparency and opening data? (open government)
    Is it about a more effective and forward thinking multi-channel comms strategy? (responsive government)
    Is it better use of Web 2.0 interactivity ? (online engagement)
    Is it about moving towards a more participatory and collaborative governance which takes the whole system into account from a user perspective? (participation)

    Is it all or none of the above?

    The role has lots of potential to push forward on the transformational government agenda so I hope that Andrew Stott will place a strong emphasis on going beyond whitehall, beyond london, and beyond ‘tech-world’ to understand and engage with the whole system. I would also like to see a robust citizen engagement strategy in place which goes beyond ‘consultation’ and ‘online’ into ‘collaboration’ and ‘360degree engagement’ for future policy development.

  2. Julia Higginbottom says:

    I like the Idea of such government bodies now having a less formal approach, a twitpic of said ‘coffee area’ would be good! I hope that they can follow through with a change of thinking too. Also wondering if this is what you had in mind re Digital Aloofness tho’ 😉

  3. Jon Bounds says:

    It might not be such a bad thing that he’s come from “outside” the web scene (if indeed he has, it’s possible that he uses the tools either internally at work, or privately without us knowing) — there’s a lot to be said for a fresh pair of eyes.

    It’ll also give us all a chance to be as open and supportive to “new people” as we always claim we are — Andrew, jump in and ask questions…

  4. Declaration – I used to work for Andrew Stott

    This appointment is what the digital engagement area in government needs right now after a rocky spell. Someone who is non political with a mixed technology and policy background, with huge experience of how Whitehall works and how to get things done in the system.

    Without Andrew we probably wouldn’t have any of the power of information work (on freeing up data and engaging in social networks) of which I was often the public face. He sponsored it, funded it and backed me up on bad days.

    Andrew gets things done, rather than just talking about them – and now is the time to get things done.

  5. Nick Booth says:

    I love this mixture of opinion. The surprise from the social web folks is partly a measure of what John is saying – that we see a limited part of the world. It is great to hear what Will is saying, given his direct experience of working with Andrew.

  6. alex butler says:

    Declaration – I still work with Andrew Stott!

    I can’t tell you how glad I am that we’ve filled this role. It’s much needed and as Alice Casey says covers an incredibly wide portfolio. Yes, we need to move up several gears on social media, but actually we still have a lot to do in getting the basics right.

    Andrew is an excellent choice for this job. He has credibility with a very broad cross section of people (inside and out), enormous intellect, never lets a problem stop him finding a solution and years of experience making the machine work for the citizen. As a member of the public dealing with government – I’d want him on my side.

  7. Number one tip: help him focus on just one or two things. Getting nearly anything through in govt IT is nearly impossible, and yet most people working in the field are given 90 things to do at the same time. We should help him pick max three things that we want the most, and then give him the greatest luxury in whitehall – a clear desk and a lack of distractions – to deliver on them.

  8. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Andrew, but I do know many of luminaries who have welcomed his appointment. POIT is a fantastic piece of work and he is obviously held in great respect by many. That’s good enough for me.

    The biggest question for me now:
    “Is it worth remembering exactly what I was doing when I heard of Andrew Stott’s appointment to @DirDigEng? #kennedy-assasination”

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