Government IT reformers criticise IT leadership shake-up

Government IT reformers have criticised plans to give procurement chief Bill Crothers a more prominent role in the IT leadership team

Government IT reformers have criticised the Cabinet Office’s plans to give chief procurement officer Bill Crothers a more prominent position within the IT leadership team. Sources told Computer Weekly they were concerned the move could potentially undermine the IT reform agenda.

Under a structural shake-up being led by the Cabinet Office’s new chief operating officer Stephen Kelly, Crothers is to take a more central position within the IT leadership team.

Executive director of the Cabinet Office, Lesley Hume, is to report to Crothers under her new role leading the execution of the ICT strategy and working with the Whitehall departments.

Government insiders say there is also a strong likelihood Crothers will be responsible for the G-Cloud team. However, details of the structural changes are still being finalised.

Former G-Cloud director Chris Chant told Kelly in a tweet that the changes should be led by the G-Cloud team not “old school Crothers".

Some government IT insiders believe that Crothers has a much softer approach to taking on the oligopoly of large suppliers that dominate Whitehall IT, compared with that of the “IT reformists” who want to see a dramatic reduction in government IT spend through transparent procurement vehicles such as the G-Cloud.

Chris Potts, a corporate IT strategist, said the role of IT procurement in government should not be given greater importance than that of strategy. “It would be a shame if, as a consequence of these changes, the only strategic conversations about IT happen in the context of procurement,” he said.

The criticism follows moves to reduce the responsibilities of government CIO Andy Nelson to concentrate on the digital transformation agenda at the Ministry of Justice. Underthe organisational shake-up expected to be announced soon, deputy CIO Liam Maxwell is to report to Mike Bracken, executive director of  the Government Digital Service, who will lead the digital strategy.

According to insiders, Stephen Kelly does not believe there is a need for the role of government CIO.

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