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Home Office seeks Brexit tech boss – but doesn't splash the cash

£100k to sort borders, immigration, biometrics systems by 2019. Did we mention it's in Croydon?

The reality of the mammoth task facing the Home Office in preparing for Brexit appears to have sunk in – the department is seeking a technology lead for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

They will be in charge of overseeing the EU Exit programme, which the Home Office described as "a layer of IT-enabled change that sits atop and across" existing technology change programmes in the department.

"The scale and complexity makes this an exciting opportunity to lead a challenging, large scale cross-department programme of work," the department said in the job blurb.

However, the purse strings appear to remain (relatively) tight in the public sector, as the new recruit can expect a salary of between £95,000 and £105,000.

The Croydon-based role will sit in the Digital, Data and Technology function – which covers about 3,000 staff – and the fresh recruit will report to the immigration technology director. The new hire will be expected to work with various supplier partners, as the department aims to free itself from its large multi-year contracts with single vendors.

The Home Office said the main focus of the work will be on immigration, borders and biometrics – none of which are areas where the department has won particular praise of late.

In July, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority branded the £431m Digital Services at the Border gig – a crucial part of Brexit preparations – as being at high risk of failure.

Earlier in the year, the department’s Initial Status Analysis database was slammed for allowing the departures of 600,000 foreign visitors to go un-recorded.

And at the end of last year, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee said the UK border could be left exposed thanks to “weak contingency planning” – a particular problem if the UK leaves with no deal.

The National Audit Office has also concluded that the UK’s tired border technology poses a risk to operations after Brexit.

Beyond specific concerns about Brexit, the Home Office’s information-slurping from other public authorities’ databases has been widely criticised.

And its approach to biometrics has come under regular fire from MPs, watchdogs and campaigners – and the long-awaited strategy on the topic did little to assuage their concerns.

All of which gives some idea of the kinds of pressure the successful candidate will be under as soon as they get their feet under the table. The job spec alludes to this, emphasising that the bod hired should have experience working in a high-profile, high-pressure and politically charged environment.

The closing date is 2 September and the final panel interviews are 8 October – which should give them plenty of time to handle the first task listed in the job description:

“Design and delivery of the programme of DDaT work needed to support the settlement scheme in time for launch in the Autumn of 2018."

Although it should be noted that the government’s definition of autumn usually runs into March of the next year.

Gluttons for punishment can see the full job spec here. ®

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