back to article Boss behind 'reset' of delayed, overbudget Emergency Services Network shifts to new 'digital' Cabinet Office role

Joanna Davinson, who in her role at the Home Office spent the last three years overseeing the Emergency Services Network project – currently incurring £550m in additional annual costs because of delays – has been appointed executive director of the UK government's new Central Digital and Data Office. The new CDDO will sit …

  1. Tom Paine

    I can picture the scene...

    "The cabinet office is a ratsnest of warring fiefdoms, seething with distrust and mad policy ideas from undersocialised wonks. What could we do to make it even worse?"

    "How about... /Digital Cabinet/. Quick, get the Trusted Providers on the phone!"

    (With apologies to @SirBonar on Twitter)

    Fail, because if it's not already, it soon will be.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I can picture the scene...

      If the quality of failure is measured in millions lost, these people are incredibly successful and at the top of their field.

      1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge

        Don't be mean...

        At least they have the nous to move on before the losses are realized.

        Onwards and upwards to the next debacle...

  2. Down not across Silver badge


    So far all I see is shuffling of people who may have "experience" but have yet to deliver anything (unless delayed, on on-hold or cancelled projects count). Oh and someone from private sector chairing without pay. Pardon me if I don't believe he will be doing it for free.

    Yes I'm sure this will all result in improved "personalised" public services. Not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Que?

      "Yes I'm sure this will all result in improved "personalised" public services. Not."

      Given the history of the ESN project, thats rather pessimistic. Not smearing their faeces on the meeting notes would probably be a step up at this point - whether it was done by the public or private sector is irrelevant.

      Any word on whether 4G in-fill will resolve coverage issues or are we just going to bung EE another few billion in 3 years when it fails to deliver and the next public sector scraps the crap off their teflon suit and moves to their next role?

      1. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: Que?

        Historically O2/Airwave made a complete dogs dinner of this first time around as well.... ans the Military’s Bowman comms little better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Que?

          I wasn't trying to imply any success on the part of O2/Airwave.

          ESN is just trying to manage the appearance of filling in the hole that Airwave dug with shovels rather than money and then drip feeding the money over a very long time period.

  3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Ms Davinson's career

    According to her LinkedIn profile she studied Archaeology at Lancaster University, then Archaeological Science at Uni of Bradford*. So presumably she is used to attention to detail and getting her knees / hands dirty. After which:

    "Joanna began her career in the UK Civil Service at the National Audit Office where she qualified as a Public Sector Accountant (CIPFA)

    She joined Coopers & Lybrand in the UK as a Management Consultant focused on Government and Health clients before moving with C&L to Tanzania to work as a consultant on a variety of World Bank and Donor funded transformation programmes

    On returning to the UK she took a leading role in implementing enterprise wide Finance and Accounting systems and processes for a number of central and local government clients in the UK. She then moved to PwC in Canada to implement an Integrated Financial System for the Government of Ontario. "

    I realise that it is usual practice to mention someone's failures when they get a new job in a senior position, but how about the Register describing how successful she was at the NAO, in Tanzania etc? After all, massive government IT disasters and cost overruns are 'ten a penny' , as it were.

    *(The trouble with archaeology is there's no future in it :o). I thank you.)

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Ms Davinson's career

      A web search finds information that she worked for IBM, but says nothing about what she did there.

      In fact, she just seems to be another PHB (Uni, then Civil Service financial bod, followed by financial consultancy and some undefined role at IBM but no indication of any technical knowledge, expertise or responsibility) - yet, she's hired to fix a failing but vital technology project. WHY?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        It's called spreading incompetence. The more you spread it, you thinner it gets, right ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ms Davinson's career

        "yet, she's hired to fix a failing but vital technology project. WHY?"

        I would suggest viewing the documentary series Yes Minister and the follow up Yes Prime Minister for an in-depth explanation.

        I suspect Ms Davinson has done exactly what was expected - keep the project on life support with out too many PR disasters or requests for multi-billion pound rescues and pass it on to the next civil servant to continue. At some point the technologies they hoped would be invented to allow Airwave/ESN to actually deliver on the promises from the late 90's. Or enough 3G/4G/5G/6G/7G masts to be deployed (and any necessary point solutions to cover London Underground et el) that the UK finally has a functional ESN system and Tetra can be retired...

        But thats many bureaucrats into the future...

        1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge

          She only got the job because Dido is busy fucking up the NHS

          And maybe because she used the phrase "legacy estate".

          Mine's the one with the completed bullshit bingo card. House!

          1. Anna Logg

            Re: She only got the job because Dido is busy fucking up the NHS

            "And maybe because she used the phrase "legacy estate""

            I thought that was a Subaru with a big boot

    2. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Ms Davinson's career

      It’s a list. You are implying they were staggering successes. Can you evidence this as finance and government are not happy IT partners.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Ms Davinson's career

        "You are implying they were staggering successes."

        I implied no such thing, my good fellow, I was hoping the Register would investigate and find one, any success that can be laid to Ms Davinson's account.

        "Can you evidence this as finance and government are not happy IT partners."

        I was hoping the Register's team of crack journo's and boffins could do that.

        I ended with "massive government IT disasters and cost overruns are 'ten a penny' , as it were."

        I would just like to think that SOMEONE in charge of a major HMG IT procurement has some actual competence.

        I have no knowledge of Ms Davinson, but in these dark times of Covid-91 incompetence and restrictions, Brexit destroying the Scottish fisheries (as they cannot get their catch to the EU market before it rots due to the new 'red tape'), the prospect of civil war 2 in the USA, and climate change trashing the environment, insects dining out, plastics infesting the entire planet, I wanted some good news. Is that really too much to ask?

        1. Al fazed Bronze badge

          Re: Ms Davinson's career

          It is good news if you apply the Damoclease theory, ie; at this rate it won't be long before the complete and utter failure of govermins to er, govern anything with any level of public confidence.

          Then it'll be back to the drawing boards and everyone using pen and paper to wortk basic stuff out, like employinh someone with the requisite skills to do the job.............

          oh bolloxs, my mistake she does have the "right" skills set, I am looking at the picture upside down..............


  4. 0laf Silver badge

    Another graduate from the Dido Harding School of Business.

    They teach nothing about business but they are very good on how to integrate yourself with the ruling classes and bagging yourself a minister to keep you warm between contracts

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We need to get used to these new kinds of leaders and make the best use of them.

      If anyone knows how to make the best use of these leaders, reply with suggestions.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Estonia wants their ball back

    "enhance our reputation as the world's most digitally advanced government"

    That would be our reputation amongst people who haven't heard of any other country. We are in the Premiership - but we aren't really title contenders, mid table at best.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Results do not matter

    You can literally coast your entire life, pretending to yourself you were useful because you say things that are positive and decisive, yet, upon close inspection, non-committal, and moving up before things fall apart.

  7. old_nic

    Perhaps Dido should head up a public inquiry as to why these projects all fail

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