Gov't appoints tech tsar to cut IT costs

The former CEO of Logica, Martin Read, is to help the government deliver large IT projects successfully and cut the £13bn annual costs involved

The government has drafted in a former blue-chip chief executive to help slash the £13bn spent on public-sector IT each year.

Martin Read, former chief executive of IT outsourcer Logica, will help achieve "significant savings" and address the "serious problems" that chief secretary to the Treasury, Yvette Cooper, claimed often blight major IT projects.

A number of recent large IT projects undertaken by the government are late or over budget, including systems used by the Child Support Agency and the National Health Service.

The Treasury has brought Read on board as part of a review of public-sector spending that will produce an interim report for this autumn's pre-Budget report.

Read said he wants to help the government catch up with the private sector, which is generally considered to achieve better value for money on complex computer projects.

Read said in a statement: "I am pleased to be involved in this programme and to be leading the work on back-office and IT services. The private sector has made significant strides forward in this area in recent years and my work will examine the scope for the public sector to benefit from this experience."

The Treasury denied that Read will be stepping on the toes of government chief information officer John Suffolk, whose responsibilities include advising on major IT projects, saying that Read's remit will be limited to a 12-month review.

Read's responsibilities include examining the standardisation and simplification of business processes, improving the government's success rate on the delivery of large IT projects, ensuring compatibility between national systems, and improving hardware and software procurement.

The Treasury said a key change expected to come out of the review will be a willingness to abandon failing projects.

The appointment comes as public-sector procurement body the Office of Government Commerce announced a new version of the free IT model contract to deliver better value for money for complex procurements.

IT contractor Parity Resources has also revealed it expects to do brisk business in the public sector this year, forecasting revenue of £70m.