Government needs an IT supremo

Government has had no co-ordinated technical leadership for the past three years, since its IT strategy unit, the Central...

Government has had no co-ordinated technical leadership for the past three years, since its IT strategy unit, the Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency, was rolled into the Office of Government Commerce, e-envoy Andrew Pinder said last week.

Speaking at a National Computing Centre conference Pinder called for a chief information officer to oversee and co-ordinate government computing.

He said that his departure next year from the e-envoy post, coinciding with the departure of the director of the Office of Government Commerce Peter Gershon, presented an ideal opportunity to have a new chief information officer combining both roles to provide IT leadership.

"That person would not be a boss to IT directors in government departments, for constitutional reasons," he explained, "but would be a Civil Service appointment, probably based in the Cabinet Office, to provide stronger professional leadership."

The role would focus on pushing centralisation and economies of scale in IT across government departments, he added.

Government sector IT directors should think about building alliances and working across government, "They will have to relate more to the centre and that will be a nuisance to any 'barons'."

They will also have to raise their game and help to educate departments in how technology can transform their business, Pinder added, noting, for example, that CRM systems are not used much in government.

"For the first time over the next two or three years government will address more leading edge technology," he said, which would require a fundamental rethink of how to produce services in a more customer-focused way.

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