By Tony Collins
In November last year we asked “Where is the Government CIO?”
We said that the then Government CIO Joe Harley – amiable, straight-talking and influential – could be the civil service’s ambassador for change.
Like his predecessor John Suffolk he could have used conferences and public events to talk inspirationally about the dystopian costs of government IT and what to do about them. Why hasn’t he, we asked.
“If the Government CIO has much to say, it is not for the public ear. While there has been talk in recent weeks of how five corporations control GovIT, and how it can cost up to £50,000 to change a line of code, Harley has been silent.
“Where does the Government CIO stand on the need for major reform of the machinery of government, on the sensible risks that could save billions? Is the top man in Government IT inspiring his colleagues and officials in other departments to do things differently?”
“The whole emphasis now needs to be on implementation and delivery. There has been enough strategising and there really needs to be execution… [The government must] deliver on the implementation plan that we created and grow the talent with capability for the future.
“When it starts to deliver, we’ll start to see government ICT getting a [better] reputation,” he said.
Who will do less strategising and focus more on delivery?
As Harley now says, there needs to be individual accountability for decisions rather than a generalised blaming of committees.
“I think we need to be more light-footed and make people more accountable for their decisions and actions rather than [blaming] committees and programme boards,” he said.
No individual in government is going to make the changes that Harley recommends. Any real changes will be effected by committees and programme boards. Which is probably why material change in government administration and IT will happen in geologic periods. Unless an individual with charisma and leadership abilities – and who doesn’t mind talking in public while still in the public sector – is prepared to make the difference.