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This UK government CDIO role has a salary of £54k: We're a little dismayed

A Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO) role in a UK government agency is being advertised with the startling low salary for a C-suite position of £54,551-£62,118 – even as it eyes ambitious digital transformation.

The CDIO at the Vehicle Certification Agency will be responsible for leading a modest digital team of 20 and managing contracted services worth approximately £500,000 per year, an advert closing January 31 said.

 Vehicle Certification Agency CDIO role salary
VCA in numbers, 2021-2022

Whilst civil service salaries are notably lower than the private sector most CDIO roles in government pay over £100,000 and the range is below even the average salary for a cloud architect or data scientist role in the private sector in 2023.

It is also approximately one quarter of the average CIO role in the federal government in the US.

See also: In praise of HMG’s new “Digital, Data and Technology Playbook”

The VCA CDIO role does include a £10,000  “recruitment and retention allowance”.

In August 2021, the agency says it "completed our cloud migration, resulting in all the VCA’s systems operating from the public cloud, thus forming the basis for our digital transformation."

Vehicle Certification Agency CDIO role: Who's needed?

The Vehicle Certification Agency said it is seeking “a high-quality individual who has a track record of delivery and is comfortable with operating at pace in complex organisations where stakeholder management is critical to success."

It wants the CDIO to "develop and implement a strategy to ensure that the VCA is at the forefront of
adopting digital, data and technology to best support the automotive industry."

(It may well get someone impressive as well -- for a couple of years before they go and double or triple their salary in the private sector. It is not The Stack's intention to undermine the hugely talented people of the civil service often delivering impressive programmes to little reward; but it is clear that a decade of bitter government cuts have resulted in some palpably absurd salaries and expectations for those earning them.)

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Speaking after the NCSC's Technical Director stepped down last year, Stephen Murdoch, Professor of Security Engineering and Royal Society Research Fellow noted: "While I’m sure money isn’t the main consideration for such a role it is ridiculous that technical lead for such an important high-tech organisation gets less than £150k."

"Gov't might not be able to match private sector salaries and can make up for some difference in other ways, but there gets to be a point where the mismatch isn’t tenable. They seem to have recognised this for management roles (£250k+ is not uncommon) but not for technical. If the UK wants to be a high tech powerhouse there must be a cultural change where technical expertise is valued just as much as business knowledge."

Its last annual report, published March 202, the VCA noted that: “Central to our long-term strategy is an ambitious business transformation programme that will provide new and improved digital services for customers and staff" -- the agency reported income for that year of £21m, against costs of £21.9m, for a deficit of £800k.

Among other services, the Vehicle Certification Agency provides manufacturing assurance certification, market surveillance support and as the UK Type Approval Authority (TAA) for “new on and off-road vehicles, systems, and components, we are responsible for approving that these have been designed and constructed to meet national and international standards for safety, security, and environmental protection.”

GCHQ, NCSC Technical Director Dr Ian Levy calls quits after 22 years