Govt CIO denies lack of central control is bad for IT

Government CIO John Suffolk has denied that the centre of government needs more authority over the rest of the public sector after a recent report said IT...

Government CIO John Suffolk has denied that the centre of government needs more authority over the rest of the public sector after a recent report said IT projects need to be more centrally driven to succeed.

The Institute of Government report said last month that a lack of authority at the centre of government prevents IT projects being successfully rolled out across the public sector.

The report said, "Attempts by the centre to promote cross-government IT-based transformation have tended to founder on a combination of line departments' competing priorities and the centre's lack of influence.

"This is because the governance of IT is currently 'collegial': with power dispersed between departments, the centre can co-ordinate only through persuasion and consensus rather than formal mandates."

Suffolk agreed the central CIO council does not have the power to enforce projects or strategy on departments or organisations, but said that would not be desirable.

"I totally see what the Institute for Government was saying - we have no ability to tell a department what to do," he said. "But I have no desire to do that. If you have a compelling vision, people will execute it. There is not a 'one size fits all' approach. What you have to be able to do is to get like-minded people to understand how things can fit together and come up with a strategy that is right for people."

He said he does not want more authority over central government departments because the CIO of each one knows his or her business best.

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