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Stop sexing up IT and give Civil Servants Macs, says gov tech boss

Ex New gov CIO lashes Labour's tech wastage

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The man in charge of the government's IT efficiency drive has told MPs that Whitehall should use more Apple Macs while castigating the previous government for trying to sex-up IT projects.

Ian Watmore, COO of the Efficiency and Reform Group, told the public administration committee that Labour had poured cash into computer systems to help make their policies sound "sexy" the beeb reports.

Many of the expensive IT screw-ups presided over by Labour were down to wonky policies and shonky project management, he claimed, rather than problems with technology per se.

Labour's time in office included triumphs such as the DWP/CSA, the still-sputtering Noms project, and the NHS' nightmarish National Programme for IT. And ID cards.

Watmore said ministers often lost interest in projects once they'd announced policies, the Guardian reports, and departments should be firmer in pushing back on whether a project was deliverable.

Watmore should know what he was talking about - he was head of e-government in the mid-2000s at the Cabinet Office and was a permanent secretary at the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Luckily, the mess is all being cleared up now - Watmore has come back to government as the head of Francis Maude's Whitehall efficiency drive, which is all about smaller, more agile, more efficient projects with a bigger emphasis on open source.

And what particular technology could this sexed-down, more open approach use?

Watmore told the committee that in his personal view, the government should use more Apple products, just like the ones he uses at home.

It's not hard to imagine the Daily Mail reaction to the prospect of civil servants being issued with iPads and MacBook Airs in these times of austerity.

Watmore also copped flak for his own pre-government career, the Beeb reports. He's an alumnus of that agile organisation Accenture.

But he dismissed suggestions that big IT is part of the problem, saying, "I am certainly not part of the problem and I would contest that the corporate industry of this country has caused the problems." ®

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