Government loses chief procurement officer

John Collington, the government’s chief procurement officer, is moving back to the private sector after only starting the key job in April 2011, triggering some concern about the government's progress in improving its procurement processes.

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John Collington, the government’s chief procurement officer, is moving back to the private sector after only starting the key job in April 2011, triggering some concern about the government's progress in improving its procurement processes.

As a member of the Cabinet Office Efficiency & Reform Group (ERG), Collington had responsibility for centralising and consolidating procurement within the government.

Georgina O'Toole, an analyst at TechMarketView, said there had been a long list of recent departures from the ERG already. Ian Watmore, permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office, who helped set up the ERG recently announced his own departure (http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/careers/3358035/ian-watmore-leaves-civil-service/) from the civil service.

"It must be proving hard to drive the UK government ICT strategy forward considering the number of departures from the ERG over the last year or so,” she said.

Prior to news of Collington's departure the Government Procurement Service (GPS) announced a four-year framework tender for hosting services worth between £100m and £1bn, to be used across central and local government.

Collington started working for government departments in 2007 after 23 years of working in the private sector. Collington will now be taking up the role of chief operating officer at recruitment firm Alexander Mann Solutions.

O'Toole said "numerous names had been put in the frame" to replace Collington, including current deputy chief procurement officer David Smith, executive director of supplier relationships Bill Crothers, and David Shields, managing director of the Government Procurement Service.

In addition, she said, Paul Marriner, seconded from Fujitsu Services as programme director for government shared services, had been mentioned. "It would certainly make a change to hear of a private sector to public sector move", she said.

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