Former Socitm president Richard Steel is stepping down from his role as CIO of Newham, leaving behind a legacy of IT leadership in local government.
Steel moved to Newham Council from Morgan Grenfell (now Deutsche Bank).in 1989, where he undertook a number of IT management roles before becoming the chief information officer.
His tenure as CIO was marked by a determination to CIO deploy the best available technology, to deliver the best possible public services to the inhabitants of one of the UK’s poorest boroughs.
As part of that process, in 2003, Steel ran a competitive tender with Windows against Linux for Newham. Not only did Steel get Microsoft to pay for £500,000 of external consultancy for the council, but the eventual deal he brokered with Microsoft, helped pave the way for deep license discounts across the wider public sector.
Under Steel's management, Newham reached the government's online service delivery targets of putting services on the internet almost two years ahead of the 2005 schedule and as CIO, he steered the council's ICT strategy to put it on track for the London 2012 Olympics.
In 2005, he won the 'Public Sector CIO of the Year' award at the UK Technology, Innovation and Growth awards.
For the past year, Steel served as president of the public sector IT managers association, Socitm where he managed an ambitious change programme, which saw the body work more closely with central government.
With Steel at the helm, Socitm wasa driving force in the creation of a Local Government CIO Council, which represents the views of local government to the main Government CIO Council.
After almost 20 years in public sector IT, Steel announced his resignation in his blog. "I’ve loved my time with Newham, and been very proud of its ICT service. As Socitm’s president I got to see, or hear about, all sorts of Council organisations, but few could match Newham’s ICT accomplishments."
The blog continued: "Even so, it was going to be difficult returning to local government bureaucracy after such a different year, and with such a talented team in Newham demonstrating that they can do very well without me, thanks very much, it somehow seemed unfair, in any case, to return and cramp their style. Many congratulations to Geoff [Connell, acting CIO, Newham Borough] and the team on doing such a great job."
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