Whitehall criticised over payoff to OGC chief

Whitehall and the government have been criticised over a large early retirement payoff to a top civil servant whose organisation oversees government IT.

Whitehall and the government have been criticised over a large early retirement payoff to a top civil servant whose organisation oversees government IT.

John Oughton left the Treasury's Office of Government Commerce (OGC) as its chief executive earlier this year. Computer Weekly has learned that he received an early termination settlement worth £612,000 on top of a pension worth about £1m.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union said it was a "sizeable" settlement, and he questioned its appropriateness in light of the government's variable record on the delivery of IT schemes.

A PCS spokesman said Oughton's compensation would raise eyebrows. "With this payoff there is a danger that people will see all civil servants to be getting huge payoffs when they leave and to be on gold-plated pensions.

"But for ordinary people who have to work with IT systems, for example at the Child Support Agency, their pensions are a fraction of that and they are at risk of losing their jobs in many cases."

One objective of the OGC has been to help raise the general standard of IT-based services in government, in part through its Gateway reviews which are independent assessments of IT.

Oughton fought for Gateway reviews to remain secret, despite a recommendation by the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee that the reviews be published.

Oughton left the OGC at the age of 54, the normal retirement age for civil servants being 60.

The compensation package, which is described by the Treasury as "early-termination", means that before he is 60 Oughton will receive five and a half years' pension and compensation at the equivalent of about £75,000 a year. At 60 he will able to receive a pension worth about £1m, topped up by £179,000.

MP John Pugh, a member of the Public Accounts Committee which regularly questioned Oughton on government IT projects and programmes, said, "I cannot for the life of me see a business case for letting him go on such terms. I am not convinced there is a case."




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