A new role as head of cyber has been created by the Scottish Government as part of a change to the way cybersecurity is managed across departments.

Geoff Huggins, digital director at the Scottish Government, informed Digital Directorate staff of the move during a recent monthly town hall meeting.

As part of the change, the existing Cyber Resilience Unit, a policy division that does external outreach work, will move from the Justice Directorate into the Digital Directorate.

The head of cyber will assume a deputy director role within the directorate, and Huggins said there are also plans to expand the directorate’s reach into other departments.

“I think that’s showing a growing degree of confidence in the directorate, that people are coming to us and asking how we can help them plot the future, in terms of what they’re looking to do,” he said.

Huggins said the ambition is for the Digital Directorate to have a better understanding holistically of the digital transformation work going on across government and agencies.

He said that will ensure that digital programmes are joined up, give citizens a good experience and digital components are re-used as much as possible.

“So, a portfolio approach to digital, which effectively extends our influence across the organisation,” he explained.

Using digital more effectively as part of a wider public sector reform agenda is also high on the agenda, said Huggins.

Key to that is organising datasets better across government and getting them to work “in concert”, for example combining management, research or Census data. Other developments include licensing, and how technology might be used to underpin a common approach for various forms of licenses issued by government. 

Huggins, pictured left, said that AI has also risen higher up the agenda, as senior civil servants and ministers get to grips with the challenges and opportunities for a fast-evolving technology. 

“I think that we’re still getting our heads around what we think the use cases for us as the Scottish Government would be alongside what the use cases would be for external, public-facing organisations,” he said. 

To that effect, there were two sessions delivered for government staff on AI in November. But in future there will inevitably be opportunities around the use of generative AI platforms like ChatGPT, particularly in supporting the workflow for staff.

Going forward, there may well be a case to present the Digital Directorate as a ‘centre of excellence’ to support the digital work across government, said Huggins, with the possibility that more projects will moved into the directorate. 

Job planning, so that digital, data and technology staff can move more easily between projects may well be the key to that, he added.