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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