Sir David Varney has been appointed as the prime minister’s adviser on public service transformation – a role that will include advising on delivery of his own recommendations on technology-enabled change.
Varney’s December 2006 report, Service Transformation, was produced for Gordon Brown before his switch from chancellor to prime minister.
It followed the Cabinet Office’s publication of its Transformational Government programme, aimed at boosting public service delivery and increasing efficiency through technology, with a heavy emphasis on shared services.
In his new role, Varney will work closely with former pensions chief Alexis Cleveland, the new director general of service transformation at the Cabinet Office, who will oversee the Transformational Government programme and the government’s IT efforts.
It is expected that government chief information officer John Suffolk will report to Cleveland.
Ian Watmore, previously head of the prime minister’s delivery unit and a former government CIO, has left the IT industry after nearly more than 27 years to become a top civil servant at the new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
Varney was the first executive chair of the newly merged HM Revenue and Customs department from 2004 to 2006. He was previously chair of mobile operator O2 and has held a series of senior posts in the energy industry.
Work has already begun on implementing the recommendations from Varney’s 2006 report, which included:
- consolidating the government’s information and transactional websites into the Directgov and Businesslink portals
- rationalising and delivering 25% efficiency savings from public sector contact centres
- delivering a “change of circumstances service” to ensure people do not have to notify a string of different services about births, deaths or address changes