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Head of UK.gov's Common Technology Services Iain Patterson steps down

Body count of GDS folk grows bigger following arrival of Kevin Cunnington

By Kat Hall

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The director of Common Technology Services at Government Digital Service Iain Patterson has stepped down, adding to a growing body count of senior folk to have left since director general Kevin Cunnington took the helm.

A Cabinet Office spokesman confirmed Patterson's departure to The Register. "We would like to thank him for his valued contribution and wish him success in the future," he said. The statement did not include the reason for his departure, where he will go, or who is expected to replace him.

Since Cunnington effectively ousted former GDS head Stephen Foreshew-Cain in 2016, a raft of senior GDS bods have jumped ship.

Patterson returned to GDS in January 2016, having been seconded in the role of CTO at the DVLA for more than two years. During his time at CTS he created a central source on standards and best practice for internal government IT for the unbundling and exiting of large technology contracts, as well as providers of common technology solutions and routes to market.

He was widely credited with drafting the Ocean Liner report, a review of the government's strategy for IT contracts, which found that some deals provide little incentive for suppliers to improve efficiency.

In February, Patterson wrote that IT contracts with a value of £3.8bn are due to end over the course of this Parliament. He said: "Many still have large, legacy contracts using system integrators which affect their ability to change their technology estate."

But the direction of travel appears to have been changed within GDS to focus away from large expiring contracts to supporting the technology needed in the Government Property Programme.

Cunnington has also taken a more conciliatory approach to departmental spend, putting in place "continuous interactions" with tech teams rather than setting spending limits for them - according to an interview with Public Technology.

Patterson's departure from CTS leaves a huge questionmark over the future of the body and the agenda for breaking up costly IT contracts in government.

In 2015, 65 per cent of total IT spend was hoovered up by 10 suppliers, with HP coming top at £1.2bn, followed by Capgemini at £861m, and BT at £561m - according to an analysis of Cabinet Office data from the National Audit Office.

Prior to the referendum, chief exec of the civil service John Manzoni vowed that many of those large expiring contracts would be disaggregated within the next year.

But civil servants are now reported to be renewing hundreds of government contracts with the private sector that were due to expire because they are too busy with Brexit. ®

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