Public sector CIOs welcome Joe Harley’s government appointment

Public sector IT heads and analysts have welcomed the appointment of Joe Harley as the government's new CIO.

Public sector IT leaders have welcomed the appointment of Joe Harley as the government's new CIO.

Harley is to take on the top job in public sector IT, while retaining his role as the CIO at the Department for Work and Pensions. He succeeds former CIO John Suffolk, who announced his decision to leave last year.

Jos Creese, head of IT at Hampshire County Council, said he was delighted with the appointment. "Joe Harley is an outstanding CIO with a track record in the public sector, and I look forward to working with him to help ensure that local public service priorities are reflected in national ICT activities and plans."

David Wilde, CIO at Westminster City Council, agreed. "I can see the logic of appointing one of the major CIOs in central government while retaining his substantive role, as it will give him more control to do something more radical," he said.

Sarah Burnett, analyst at Ovum, said it was good news that a "heavyweight" such as Harley had been appointed to the role, with the part-time role in keeping with the coalition's policies of doing more for less.

"I'll be interested to see if he can do both jobs. But I think he will certainly set direction and strategy for the government. This could be the start of a different style of working, with the CIO council becoming more proactive and collaborative," Burnett said.

But Harley has a tall order ahead of him, said Clive Longbottom, founder of analyst firm Quocirca. "If he kowtows to noise from the government and continues with standard public sector approaches to projects, then he may be able to work his way through to retirement without making much of a positive mark on history - or he could find himself being used as the ultimate scapegoat if government IT is still seen to be unfit for purpose in three years' time," Longbottom said.

Read more on IT jobs and recruitment