Ian Watmore, the new head of e-government, faces a formidable task in persuading Whitehall vested interests to change business processes and adopt standard business practices and technology.

His determination to put chief information officers in every ministry and co-ordinate their work through a government CIOs' forum is welcome.

His realisation that the head of e-government's role must extend beyond Whitehall to encompass local government and the NHS is equally important.

Watmore may tread on a few toes as he seeks to develop a unified IT strategy across the public sector but, with goodwill and, where necessary, some tough talking, we could see real progress.

He will have to rely on his diplomatic skills - he lacks direct power, but the implementation of the Gershon Review, which proposes year-on-year cuts in Whitehall running costs, will give him some clout. He'll need it. We wish him luck.

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This was first published in September 2004

 

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