CIO UK Interview: government CIO Andy Nelson

See also: Andy Nelson's MoJ profile in the CIO 100

Andy Nelson begins his role as government CIO at the end of March, replacing Joe Harley after little more than a year in the job. Even though he his tenure was short, it marked a sea-change in the way IT strategy was driven within the UK government, compared to his predecessor, John Suffolk.

Speaking to CIO UK, Nelson suggested that he will continue with Harley's approach. Like Harley, who remained IT boss of DWP, Nelson will not be relinquishing his post as departmental CIO for the Ministry of Justice.

For Nelson, delivery will be the keyword of his office, at least for the next 12 months. He will be inheriting many large IT initiatives that are still in the development and launch stages and making sure those will be deployed are at the top of his agenda.

He says: "I'll be focusing on delivering on implementations in the first year. It's about being able to shift to live examples, such as the Public Services Network (PSN)."

This year there are a number of procurement projects on new frameworks that are due to come on line in late 2012, explained Nelson and he is looking forward to exploiting them.

One of the biggest he cites is the G-Cloud initiative which is just about to see departments buying and using it, he says.

"The next 12 months is about a shift to tangible implementations."

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There has been much criticism poured on the way Whitehall procures products and services from suppliers, even from within and the coalition government is driving budget cuts in all quarters. Nelson sees his role as one of championing a shift to more flexible and responsive procurement environment.

"Previously procurement has been hampered by structured formal processes," he says. "I think John Suffolk talked about an 18-month procurement process."

One of the big initiatives within the G-Cloud initiative has been the creation of CloudStore, a framework for purchasing IT services in a much more flexible way. This framework has been criticised for lacking big-hitter buy-in, but Nelson is hopeful he can garner enthusiasm for it amongst the bigger departments.

"If you look at CloudStore, you can develop a framework in months and a procurement process of weeks. We should be buying services today on a completely different model."

It's not just IT procurement that is under the spotlight but the purchasing of other services through digital channels. This is another area Nelson expects to focus on as he takes on the role of government CIO.

Nelson's approach as IT leader will be around taking advantage of economies of scale and adopting best practices as standard. His role will involve identifying champions for particular processes which he can hold up for other departments to follow.

He says: "The same with procurement of commodity services. We are going to push further into e-auctions, so that we are procuring in a different way. We are going to make more effort with new frameworks. In the MoJ, we are leading procurement with a new hosting framework and we are pulling in other departments for their future hosting needs."