Published 04 Nov 2019

In a blog post written by Executive Director for Technology and Innovation at the ICO, Simon McDougall, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced it is now offering businesses and other organizations the possibility of sending employees to work there on secondment.

While it may seem counterproductive to place key employees on secondment, McDougall argues that the arrangement can be mutually beneficial. For their part, the ICO will benefit from increased human resources at lower cost, many of who will bring outside experiences and fresh thinking that can benefit the ICO as an organisation. The organisations providing employees, meanwhile, will benefit from developing an employee within the ICO, who can then bring practical experience in areas like GDPR compliance and the common pitfalls that many organisations fall in to.

McDougall describes a typical day working at the ICO in his post:

“The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is a varied and exciting place to work. On any given day, our employees might be investigating the potentially unlawful use of personal information to sell people goods, services or even political messages, or considering the privacy implications of emerging technologies such as facial recognition and artificial intelligence.
“They might be taking action against organisations responsible for data breaches, nuisance calls or excessive delays to freedom of information requests, or liaising with our counterparts overseas on international policy developments.”

He adds that while the ICO has greatly increased the number of permanent staff in recent years, it would also like to have more people join them on short-term secondments and enhance the organisations diversity of skills and experiences.

Secondments will typically last for 6–24 months, although shorter periods may be considered in some circumstances. The ICO appears to be open to secondees from private and public organisations with a wide range of backgrounds, such as in the fields of cybersecurity, policy, the law, information governance, and project management, to name but a few. Experience with the legislation that the ICO enforces is preferred but not essential. The ICO is particularly focussed on recruiting for its Technology Policy and Innovation Service, which seeks to predict and explore possible future challenges to privacy, such as with smart cities and autonomous vehicles.

Both individuals and organisations can approach the ICO about secondments, but both parties will of course need to be in agreement. Secondees will continue to abide by the terms and conditions of their current employers. In addition, the ICO will also require a declaration of political affiliations and the signing of a code of conduct and confidentiality agreement.

Areas like achieving GDPR compliance and protecting against data breaches can be a daunting undertaking for organisations. While the ICO’s programme of absorbing temporary secondments into its workforce should help spread knowledge throughout industry, it does usually involve losing an employee for at least six months. At Pro-Networks, we can help provide a more immediate solution. As part of our managed IT services, we can help you become GDPR compliant, as well as meet other standards like CyberEssentials+ and ISO 27001.

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