e-Envoy prepares to log off

Sweeping reforms

The e-Envoy Andrew Pinder is to quit next April, it was confirmed today.

But in a sharp and final rebuff to critics, his Office - whose future is uncertain - is set to take on a influential new role at the centre of the Government's new media machine.

Under sweeping reforms to government communications, responsibility for "ensuring effective e-communications" across government is to fall under a
high-level 'Strategic Planning and Development function', reporting to a Permanent Secretary-rank civil servant, and in which the Office of the
e-Envoy (OeE) will be intensively engaged prior to a new structure being put in place.

The move begins to draw to a conclusion months of speculation over the future of the e-Envoy, with the Cabinet Office going officially on the record to deny that his Office is to be disbanded.

Last week, Mr Pinder raised in the open for the first time his plans for a new strategic government IT executive, under the control of the Cabinet Office and Treasury, to take over his responsibilities after his departure next year.

The shake-up has been precipitated by the major review of government communications, whose interim conclusions were released last week and which the Prime Minister is said to have accepted in full. The final report is due out later this year.

Downing Street claimed that it was too early to say if there would be knock-on effects for the OeE from the re-organisation of responsibilities proposed in the report. "We are looking at how elements [of the report]
shape out", said a spokesperson at Number 10. "The Office of the e-Envoy do a great job, and it will be for the new Permanent Secretary to work with
them to find the structure."

The Cabinet Office commented: "We will need to await the final report to get a full reflection of how it may affect the Office of the e-Envoy."

Another issue for eGovernment is the report's recommendation to the Government for "increased resources for Government websites and for two-way
communications". To promote better dialogue with the general public, it states that "Government must deploy the full range of communications channels now available - especially those with a so-called 'return path'."

The interim report is available here:
(89KB PDF) and the written evidence of the e-Envoy to the review, can be found here (605KB - PDF). ®

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