Watmore quits IT for government skills role

Former government IT chief Ian Watmore 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 (DIUS).

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Former government IT chief Ian Watmore 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 (DIUS).

Watmore has moved from his position as head of the prime minister’s delivery unit at the Cabinet Office – where he oversaw the government’s IT work – to become permanent secretary at DIUS.

His delivery role at the Cabinet Office is expected to be filled by Pension Service chief executive Alexis Cleveland as part of the shake-up following Gordon Brown’s move to 10 Downing Street.

Watmore was promoted to the delivery unit post in December 2005, after a successful stint as government CIO and head of e-government – a job he had held for just 15 months.

He was previously UK managing director at IT services firm Accenture, the culmination of a 24-year business career in IT.

The IT veteran said he was delighted by his appointment at DIUS. “I am enormously excited about this opportunity. My immediate challenge will be to create a new department modelled on civil service best practice,” he said.

Watmore has overseen a rise in the status of government IT. As government CIO, he set up the CIO Council off senior public sector IT leaders and was commissioned by former prime minister Tony Blair to produce the Transformational Government strategy for improving public services and increasing efficiency through IT – a document launched by Blair in November 2005.

The following month saw Watmore step up to the head of delivery role, where he kept a watching eye on the IT brief, overseeing his successor John Suffolk.

His four years at Accenture saw the firm sign £2bn contracts to deliver the NHS’s National Programme for IT in two out of five regions in December 2003. But the IT services firm later pulled out of the deals, handing over its lead contractor role to CSC after reporting losses caused by substantial delays on the project.

Watmore was also grilled by MPs over Accenture’s implementation of the troubled NIRS2 National Insurance Recording System at HM Revenue and Customs.

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