Friday's combined Central & Local CIO & CTO Councils meeting was mainly about ICT and the Operational Efficiency Programme. How can we cut 20% from all Government ICT spending?
In a series of mini workshops we considered the decisions we could make immediately, those that may need a little more (a few weeks') consideration and what strategic actions we could take in the medium term (ahead of an election).
We came-up, I thought, with an impressive list of actions, and John Suffolk rounded the day off with the positive message "our time has come". I really do agree with that, provided, of course, we won't be into the crude top-slicing of budgets that too often happens in these circumstances - punishing the prudent, and rewarding the profligate.
The OEP puts ICT Centre Stage; it is a great opportunity, and I'm already having slight misgivings, therefore, about my announcement, today, that I'll be retiring early from Newham.
When I started on the Socitm secondment, many colleagues expressed the view that I wouldn't go back to the "day job", although I had every intention of doing so, at that stage!
Still, a lot can change in a year.
I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of working with Socitm colleagues to turn-around the Society and, although there's a lot still to do am proud of what we achieved. I've also enjoyed working with Central Government, and believe we've come a long way in the last year, after years of inertia. But, earlier this year, I really felt I needed a rest, and I've also been saddened by the premature loss of former colleagues. Life, as they say, is not a rehearsal.
I've loved my time with Newham, and been very proud of its ICT Service. As Socitm's President I got to see, or hear about, all sorts of Council organisations, but few could match Newham's ICT accomplishments - especially now we finally have our shiny new offices.
Even so, it was going to be difficult returning to local government bureaucracy after such a different year, and with such a talented team in Newham demonstrating that they can do very well without me, thanks very much, it somehow seemed unfair, in any case, to return and cramp their style. Many congratulations to Geoff and the Team on doing such a great job.
I'm now looking forward to taking two or three months off to spend some time with Chris catching-up with all the things we've let or go or meant to do, and to take time to reflect on what to do next; despite the economic woes, there are a lot of opportunities out there, and I've had some interesting offers.
I'll be working until the end of July, when I'll also be signing-off this Blog.
Here's that Socitm Digital Britain response that I mentioned last week.