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MI5 aims to recruit a senior business executive to head up big changes to its IT operation, ahead of an anticipated squeeze on the intelligence budget.

A six-figure salary is on offer for the Security Service's "head of transformation and office of CIO".

All the intelligence agencies are making huge technological investments and structural changes costing hundreds of millions of pounds as they adapt to the online world. In March it was revealed that older MI5 officers with poor IT skills face redundancy.

At the same time it is scheduled to open four new halls at its data centre in 2011. The same year it plans to complete a brand new backup data centre, which it will share with MI6. The "head of transformation" at the Security Service will play a central role in the programme.

Not that the recruitment advert gives that much away. Apart from experience in blue-chip organisations, the main requirement seems to be fluency in managementese.

The successful candidate will be responsible for "shaping the transformation and leading it through implementation, capturing the hearts and minds of the CIO organisation and the wider group of MI5 stakeholders", it explains.

Applications close the week after next, which MI5 says is a result of "aggressive timescales" for its IT plans. Security clearance could take up to six months however.

The intelligence budget for the next three years is expected to be squeezed at this year's Comprehensive Spending Review. The £2.2bn single intelligence account, which funds all the agencies, is unlikely to be cut much in real terms, but the rapid growth under Labour will surely be arrested.

Lobbying against cuts has already begun. This week The Sun cited "senior security sources" warning that cuts would make an attack on the Olympics more likely.

The head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, told MPs this year he had already launched an internal initiative called "Living Within our Means" in anticipation of tighter budgets. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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