Chris Chant calls for government IT heads to step down

Outspoken former government IT reformer Chris Chant has called for the resignation of the Cabinet Office's Stephen Kelly and Bill Crothers

Outspoken former government IT reformer Chris Chant has called for the resignation of the Cabinet Office's chief operating officer Stephen Kelly and chief procurement officer Bill Crothers following the prior information notice of an Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) framework worth up to £750m.

The former G-Cloud head slammed Kelly and Crothers for rubber-stamping the deal, which he described as an outrageous waste of money.

The ERP notice, worth between £250m and £750m, is being led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as part of the government’s shared services strategy. It will cover existing Oracle platforms across departments.

“What the Cabinet Office should be announcing is the development of an open source ERP system for itself as an alpha à la The saving is a typical old school negotiation – they should target costs of 10%, not savings of 10%,” Chant told Computer Weekly.

“If this is the best Kelly and Crothers can do for government IT savings, they should leave their jobs and make way for people who know what they are doing. This is a 1993 answer to a 2013 problem. Oracle will be popping champagne corks,” he said.

TechMarketView analyst Georgina O'Toole said the framework was an admission that some departments and agencies are wedded to major IT suppliers. 

"If it is not going to move away from Oracle or SAP, the best the Cabinet Office can do is ensure it is getting the best deal. There's no doubt there will be plenty of systems integrators looking to protect their existing relationships by getting a place on the FCO framework," she said.

Chant recently spoke out against the appointment of Crothers, who is now effectively responsible for the G-Cloud team. Some government IT insiders believe that Crothers has a much softer approach to taking on the oligopoly of large suppliers that dominate Whitehall IT.

Before retiring last year, Chant warned that government CIOs and IT suppliers must stop "hiding behind a comfort blanket" because some of them "just don't have the capability" to see through the change needed in Whitehall IT.



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Why are HMG buying ERP? They are about income and expenditure control not balance sheets also user unfriendly - money (a lot less) better spent at front line support ensuring accuracy of source information and supporting users.


£750m is such a big number, the sort Prof Brian Cox would use, it is hard to comprehend. How much is that in cloud terms on a per user per month basis? (For those employees that will actually use an ERP package)

All credit to the Oracle negotiators, to only have to concede 10% means Larry can now order a new yacht!

Deal making, a matter of convenience? You might be interested in this article:


I believe the police should be called in as this is up to £750 milion and we cannot take the "soft" view that they are grossley incompetent but need to defend the Public Purse.
The matter has been referred to the NAO (National Audit Office) in any case.