Accenture chief named UK public sector IT czar

26 May 2004 The UK government’s first ever head of e-government – arguably the most senior IT figure in the public sector – has been named as Ian Watmore, the UK managing director of Accenture.


The new role combines the responsibilities of the former e-envoy, Andrew Pinder, an influential IT advisor to the Cabinet Office, with elements of the job of chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce, a treasury unit that sets best practice procurement guidelines for many central government departments.

The head of e-government faces two particular challenges: extending and improving existing electronic government initiatives, and making progress towards so-called ‘joined-up government’, in which systems from different departments integrate seamlessly with one another.

Watmore, a 24-year veteran of Accenture, described it as “one of the biggest and most challenging IT positions in the UK today.” He added: “A lot has been achieved, but there are still huge opportunities for further progress.”

Prime Minister Tony Blair described the role as “pivotal” to the transformation of the public services.

Watmore, who takes up the post in September 2004, will become one of the UK’s most highly paid civil servants.

When the job was first advertised, a salary range of £91,000-£192,000 was given. That is thought to be potentially higher than Pinder’s salary, believed to be around £150,000 a year, but lower than the £250,000 a year that Richard Granger, the head of IT for the NHS, reputedly earns.

Watmore will answer to Douglas Alexander, minister for the Cabinet Office, and report to Cabinet Secretary Sir Andrew Turnbull.

His appointment is the latest example of a senior figure from the private sector moving over to take up a major IT role in the UK public sector.

Granger, for example, was a partner with Deloitte Consulting before he joined the health service, Pinder had carried out senior IT roles within Citibank and Prudential before becoming e-envoy, while Robert Westcott, CIO and group director of programme and systems delivery for the Department of Work and Pensions, was a former CIO of General Motors.

The public sector has become much more competitive in recent years, say recruitment experts, thanks to rising salaries and bigger IT investment budgets.

Although Watmore’s role appears to fall short of a true ‘UK CIO’, a job that many experts had called for, his areas of responsibility are still thought to be wider than almost any other public sector IT figure in the world.

One of the few genuine government CIOs is the highly rated Michelle d’Auray of Canada. Some analysts say it is no coincidence that the Canadian government is often regarded as a world leader in e-government projects.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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