The Office of Government Commerce – which oversees IT in government – is to have a new Chief Executive, Nigel Smith, 52, who is not a career civil servant. Smith has been President of Invensys Rail Systems since 2003.
He replaces John Oughton who is retiring. The articulate, amiable and intelligent John Oughton was the archetypal senior civil servant. If Treasury rules forbade the disclosure of the brand of tea used in the Treasury, John Oughton could be trusted not to mention it to anyone.
John Oughton presided over an Office of Government Commerce that successfully rebuffed attempts by the Information Commissioner and the Public Accounts Committee to persuade the Treasury to publish gateway reviews.
One suspects that Smith will come into the OGC with inspiring ideas that the Whitehall culture may not take kindly to. Within a year, it is possible he will end up sounding in public like an archetypal senior civil servant – measured, judicious and placatory.