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UK Government COO Behind Cloud Push Resigns to Return to Public Sector

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The UK government’s COO Stephen Kelly, who has helped shape Britain’s ICT procurement policy and G-Cloud, resigned on Wednesday. Kelly reported to the Cabinet Office as leader of the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), but is returning to the private sector, and may not be replaced.

In his position with ERG Kelly was tasked with transforming the way public services are delivered, while reducing the cost of those services. Moving those services to the cloud has been a major portion of that task, and Kelly realized major savings for UK taxpayers.

“Stephen Kelly has been a terrific leader of the government’s efficiency and reform programme which for last year alone saved taxpayers £14.3 billion against a 2009-10 baseline,” Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said. “Getting more for less is a central part of our long-term plan for a stronger economy and I would like to thank Stephen for his energy, tenacity and commitment.”

The role of ERG head was recently shifted to the responsibility of the CEO of the British civil service, whose position is currently vacant. Kelly’s resignation announcement does not include any mention of his replacement, or plans to address it, but a cabinet spokesperson said the decision will be made after the new CEO is hired, according to the Guardian.

If it is unclear what changes are to come, it is even less clear how they will affect government ICT procurement. Kelly had been frustrated at times with the pace and direction of reform, but noted in his resignation announcement that: “The Efficiency and Reform Group Executive team and Civil Service Heads of Profession have never been stronger and I believe that, with the appointment of the new Chief Executive for the Civil Service, central government will be further empowered to provide high quality services efficiently and to continue the reform agenda.”

Kelly will leave his position in November to become the CEO of Sage Group, an enterprise resource planning software company. Kelly had previously worked for enterprise resource planning software giant Oracle, and been the CEO of Chordiant and MicroFocus. Kelly took the government position just under two years ago.

G-Cloud 5, through which the public sector buys cloud-based services, was launched in May. The G-Cloud system has resulted in numerous contracts as the UK government aggressively adopts cloud computing.

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