Andrew Stott — the new Director of Digital Engagement

I was slightly bemused when the Cabinet Office announced that it was going to create a new £160k position for the Director of Digital Engagement.

The job seemed like a tall order: a list of requirements that it would be hard for any one person to fulfill, and a very big job to do with very limited resources. It seemed like a strange move to make when creating two positions at £80k a piece would probably still attract very qualified people, and give you more time and knowledge for your money.

Nonetheless, I watched with interest, and now, a tad later than expected, the position has been filled by Andrew Stott. My initial reaction was along the same lines as Emma Mulqueeny’s — more bemusement — but actually, I think Andrew is a good choice. Not who I’d have expected, but good nonetheless. As numerous people have said, he is very qualified, does have a brain the size of a planet, and has lots of experience pushing through the kind of change that we need. More than that, though, he’s practical.

I worked with Andrew briefly in 2008. One of the things we were looking at at the time was the quasi-XML version of the Civil Service Yearbook, which has lots of useful data in it. As is usually the case, though, it wasn’t proper XML — it’s variously broken, inconsistent and badly written. We spent a satisfying ten minutes at the end of the day bemoaning such irritations, and 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.

That, I think, is indicative of the man.