Outgoing government CIO John Suffolk disheartened at pace of change

Outgoing government CIO John Suffolk has said he is disappointed that the civil service has not yet reinvented itself, and expressed his frustration at the slow pace of change.

Outgoing government CIO John Suffolk has said he is disappointed that the civil service has not yet reinvented itself, and expressed his frustration at the slow pace of change.

"I am disheartened that we seem to be continuing with the 'old ways must be the best ways' mentality," he said in an interview with Civil Service Live.

"The core values of open competition now seem to be being swept aside in favour of appointing people without a clear transparent process that would be the envy of many private sector organisations," he added.

Creating an open competition for the top 200 civil service roles could drive the change needed, he said.

"It is what you'd do in many mergers and corporate restructurings: ensure that the very best people with the skills for the next period, not the last, hold the positions to drive through change," he said.

"This is about the civil service positioning itself for the role it needs to do in 5-10 years time, not focusing on just fixing yesterday's or even today's challenges."

And in a comment that might give an insight into the difficulties of the government CIO job, Suffolk said that change needs to happen faster.

"Our track record of delivering transformational change has not been as good as many of us would like," he said.

"This means that we have to run faster; to look through this Parliament and position ourselves for the next; to bring in different people with different skills to drive us through this next period."

Suffolk is due to step down from his role as government CIO in March, but has effectively handed over his responsibilities already. A replacement has not yet been named.

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