Crothers will be tasked with leading commercial reform across government, for example, by strengthening commercial skills in the civil service and improving management of complex contracts.
As CPO he is currently responsible for leading procurement and procurement policy and managing relationships with big suppliers.
Crothers has been outspoken since he started as government CPO in 2012, with particular ire reserved for what he described as an “oligopoly” of big IT suppliers.
He said some large systems integrators had an “abusive” relationship with government during a BBC interview in January, pointing to an example of a firm trying to charge £65 for a laptop power cable worth about £20.
'Committed' to government
Georgina O’Toole, director at analyst house TechMarketView, described the appointment as “a sign that Bill Crothers is committed to staying in government”.
She added: “His appointment also sends out the message that government is ‘not finished yet’ in its drive for efficiency reforms.”
The government recently announced a spate of appointments to the CCS as part of a drive to strengthen its commercial capability.
Ed Smith, previously chief operating officer of PwC’s global assurance business, was appointed non-executive chair while chartered management accountant David Wakefield will be non-executive chair of its audit committee.
The Cabinet Office also announced that Lawrence Christensen, who has served as director of various FTSE 100 companies such as Sainsburys and Safeway, has joined the Crown Representatives team.
Between them the 20 Crown Representatives manage strategic suppliers with large numbers of government contracts and represent specific sectors, such as ICT or business processing outsourcing, on behalf of government.
Invest to save
O’Toole suggested that rather than squeezing ICT budgets, government should perhaps consider investing in technology to achieve broader savings.
She said: “In our view, it is, though, proving harder to find efficiency savings in ICT; one wonders whether additional investment in innovative ICT solutions might be required in the medium term if Government is to achieve further savings in the broader budget.”
Last month, government chief operating officer (COO) Stephen Kelly announced plans to step down from the civil service in November. He will join Sage as group chief executive later this year.
Among other projects, Kelly was responsible for the ‘Next Generation Shared Services’ strategy, with two shared service centres being set up to process Whitehall’s back office services such as IT, HR and finance.
The role of government COO will be subsumed by the soon-to-be-appointed government chief executive.
The government is yet to confirm if someone has been selected for the job, but the advert published in July said the chosen candidate will be paid up to £200,000 and start work at the beginning of November.
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