In conversation with Sue Owen

What is your one forecast/prediction for the public sector this year?

Making predictions is not for the faint hearted! However, looking ahead, this year will see the public sector getting to grips with the biggest change to data protection law for a generation. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will give citizens rights over their personal data – a topic that couldn’t be more high profile right now. It will involve all of us, at all levels, understanding, protecting and using well the information entrusted to us.

What one thing would you change about the public sector?

This is a big question but I think it has to come down to how we market ourselves. We offer the most amazing career opportunities. People in the public sector get to work on issues at the heart of society. Our mandate at DCMS is to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain to the World – exciting and meaningful objectives that other sectors find hard to match. I think we could do more to promote that, reaching people from all backgrounds so we get the very best talent in every role.

What is the department’s biggest challenge?

The challenge for us is to strip back all the noise and focus in on evidence – qualitative and quantitative – to deliver policy and projects fit for the future.

What is the departments biggest opportunity?

As so often happens, the big challenges create the big opportunities, which is to look with fresh eyes at how we want our country and society to be and create the conditions that allow people and businesses to fulfil it. The stand out in this space has to be the challenge and opportunity presented by fast-paced technological innovations, from Artificial Intelligence to mass data. We are asking ourselves the question – how can we shape the norms and rules of the online world and technology so that it works to the benefit of humanity, not its detriment? How do we keep the safeguards of the offline world, built up over centuries without constraining the economic and social benefits of our brightest minds and most innovative businesses?

Sue Owen is the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and will be speaking on promoting equality and diversity in your workforce, at the Public Sector Show on 26th June, at ExCel London.