Feeds

Whitehall needs to dump 'unacceptable IT' – outbound G-Cloud chief

Our cloud or the highway (please pick our cloud)

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Updated Outgoing government G-Cloud programme director Chris Chant has harangued civil servants and tech vendors telling them times are a-changing and so must they.

Chant, a career Whitehall civil servant, has warned his fellow CIOs they are “hiding behind the comfort blanket” and must change how they buy IT.

“That blanket is on fire,” Chant said.

According to Chant, CIOs like himself have been guilty for years of taking the easy path by signing expensive contracts with big IT suppliers, of failing to innovate and thereby causing end users to suffer.

“We have done the #unacceptable and thought we were doing a great job,” he said.

Chant is retiring as program director and leaving the civil service at the end of April.

Chant is currently a member of the Cabinet Office that is driving G-Cloud and the UK government’s digital change agenda along with recently promoted deputy government CIO Liam Maxwell and their ministerial chief MP Francis Maude. Maxwell moved up after predecessor Bill McCluggage left for storage vendor EMC.

There's no word on where he's going. A Cabinet Office spokesperson told The Reg The G-Cloud program will continue without Chant and "a decision on the role will be made in the coming weeks.”

After 37 years in government, Chant now reckons "#unacceptable IT is pervasive.” The hash tag appeared several times in his post and seemed to have been included deliberately.

Chant reckoned big tech suppliers should see the CIO’s smoking pants blankets and be warned that government IT has "changed", and is now taking a more “customer approach”.

“They can no longer rely on delivering poor service for big money and get away with it,” Chant said.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) also got it in the neck. Their crime seems to be one of lack of awareness of the change, sloth, or both. We’re not clear.

“SMEs should embrace the opportunity they now have and bring their capabilities – speed, flexibility and low prices – to the government market. For the first time, government is ready,” Chant said.

SMBs are being held up by Chant and Co as the new hope for delivering IT to government, because they are more accountable and charge lower prices.

When Chant says government is changing, he means CIOs must manage smaller contracts with more frequent renewals so they can no longer opt for the “easy ride” of extending an existing contract or renewing what they have now.

Chant reckons IT procurement is becoming transparent, too, and with smaller contracts and use of “frameworks” it’s becoming easier to compare costs.

The framework he appears to be referring to is G-Cloud and CloudStore, the latter a vast catalogue of approved suppliers and services that is supposed to make it easier for government to shop for and buy IT and to pick suppliers.

CloudStore contains 1,700 services from 257 suppliers. While the government’s strategy relies on SMBs, the reality is the usual IT companies are represented – companies including Capgemini, BT, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft. Further, many of the supposed services are still waiting to be assured.

The government has promised a new round of companies will be certified this month.

Underpinning all this is the shift to “digital by default”. Chant says government must design services around customers “whether that customer is a citizen in front of a web browser at home or one of our own staff working in an office”.

The government is also pushing departments to publish data sets under the Open Data Initiative.

Chant’s blog is the latest outburst from those inside the Whitehall G-Cloud to target government computing users as it seems G-Cloud is encountering at the least confusion and at most entrenched opposition from government techies.

Earlier this month G-Cloud Ministry of Justice representative Emma Gawen complained of “myths and confusion” surrounding its plans for security accreditation on G-Cloud. Among these, is a belief accreditation is "just unnecessary bureaucracy". ®

This article has been updated to include Chant is retiring.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
Pedals and wheel in that Google robo-car or it's off the road – Cali DMV
And insists on $5 million insurance per motor against accidents
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?