Two IT directors being recruited to improve government IT buying

The government is recruiting for two senior IT leadership roles that are intended to improve how Whitehall buys IT

The government is recruiting for two senior IT leadership roles that are intended to improve how Whitehall buys IT.

The two jobs – IT commercial director and a chief technology officer (CTO) – are being recruited by the recently formed Crown Commercial Service (CCS).

CCS was launched in July by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to bring a more “business-like” approach to how government purchases goods and services, and maximise buying power through a central procurement operation. The new organisation will build on the existing Government Procurement Service run by Bill Crothers.

The advert for the IT commercial director said the role will be “responsible for all IT spend across government” worth as much as £6bn. The ad states, rather self-evidently, that candidates “will need to know a lot about IT”.

“Experience required will include the following: similar roles on large-scale programmes; significant experience of leading digital/IT procurement across very large, complex landscapes and through transformation change; extremely broad and deep knowledge of digital/IT category; able to engage and manage procurement teams; excellent commercial acumen and a good understanding of the legal procurement function; strong understanding of current IT/digital supplier markets and initiatives; and an awareness and understanding of industry standard security issues and processes,” said the job advert.

The job description on the CCS website also adds that, "The IT commercial director will drive the pursuit of savings in the IT category, and will change the perception that 5% savings is a good result, and will target greater than 30% savings."

The CTO role asks for individuals with “in-depth knowledge of state-of-the-art technology and digital systems that can secure high-value transactions, together with capability to build technology solutions.”

The job ad said: “This is a rare opportunity to lead a large-scale programme of change that will radically improve government procurement. Candidates should be able to apply on-the-ground experience of driving the transformation of large-scale organisations to deliver world-class digital services and best-in-class working environments.”

The successful candidates for the jobs will come under great scrutiny as the Cabinet Office continues to push for cuts in IT spending and improvements in managing relationships with the large IT suppliers that have dominated Whitehall IT projects.

A report from the Public Accounts Committee last week urged the Cabinet Office to get tougher with Whitehall departments in cutting the costs of IT purchasing across government.

Poor supplier management was also highlighted as a major failing in the Universal Credit IT programme after officials admitted that as much as £200m of IT work could be written off.

And badly negotiated contracts were cited as a contributor to the £10bn wasted on the NHS National Programme for IT after the Department of Health found it could not get out of deals with under-performing suppliers.

Existing Cabinet Office reforms cut IT spending by £316m in 2012, according to the National Audit Office.

CCS is also recruiting a commercial director for telecommunications, and a commercial delivery director who will work across all sectors - not specifically IT - to improve supplier management.

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