David Pitchford, executive director of the government’s Major Projects Authority – the body tasked with overseeing large government programmes – is to head up the Universal Credit (UC) at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Pitchford will temporarily hold the role as the department moves into its initial roll-out of the UC programme in April.
The news follows the death of former CIO Philip Langsdale, who also held the role of senior reporting officer on the UC project because of his breadth of experience. Langsdale had been overseeing an overhaul of the project, senior sources told Computer Weekly, after the IT underpinning the programme hit major problems.
A number of key figures left the programme, including project chief Malcolm Whitehouse. One of the project’s man IT suppliers also failed to deliver on the programme’s targets, sources told Computer Weekly.
Last month Andy Nelson, former government and Ministry of Justice CIO, was appointed CIO at the DWP.
A DWP spokesman said: “This move will help ensure the continued smooth preparation for the early roll-out of Universal Credit in Manchester and Cheshire in April. A recruitment exercise for a permanent replacement will be starting shortly."
Pitchford has experience overseeing troubled IT projects. Last year, he told Computer Weekly that half of government projects are not being delivered on time or on budget. He said all major projects under review by the MPA could be classed as IT projects, with technology acting as a key enabler.