UK government CIO resigns

Taking a holistic view of government and embracing cloud computing and open source software have been key to the UK government’s IT success, government CIO John Suffolk has said.

In an email announcing his resignation from the role that he has held for nearly five years, Suffolk shared some of his successes, saying that he has made “substantial progress”.

“When I joined government…there were no strategies for open source, open standards and reuse, the sustainability agenda was not even heard of, and cloud computing had not been invented,” Suffolk wrote. “Now many countries around the world copy our policies and strategies and recently at a conference with 14 other countries every single one was following the UK strategy of data centre rationalisation, shared common infrastructure and software as well as cloud computing.”

While some analysts have claimed that Australia has missed the Gov 2.0 boat, Suffolk spoke about his involvement in the DirectGov project during his time as CIO, with the online government tool just one of the many online services that he worked on while in the role of CIO.
“We have made substantial progress and much of the agenda that we set out to achieve has been completed,” he wrote. “From ensuring that the majority of services can be undertaken both online and via other channels and that where necessary there is good integration between departments and services.”

Part of this integration took place in 2007 when Suffolk closed down some 550 websites that were deemed as useless.
Suffolk had a word of advice for Australian IT managers working in the government sector, saying that diversity amongst his IT team was crucial during his time as government CIO.

“It has not been by accident that we have an almost perfect blend of career civil servants and external CIO and CTO recruits,” he said. “It is not by accident that we have openly recruited those with every kind of leadership style from many diverse industries to ensure the group is always challenged to take on board new ways of working and new thinking.”

Suffolk said he decided to leave the role of government CIO, in order to let other IT professionals drive the UK’s IT strategy.

“Having achieved what I set out to achieve it is time for me to get out of the way and allow fresh thinking and impetus to drive forward the strategy,” he said. “I know I leave our work in strong capable hands supported by a strong capable ICT supplier community.”

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