Efficiency group founder Ian Watmore to leave government

Founder of cross-Whitehall cost-savings group joins ERG exodus

Ian Watmore, who helped establish the Cabinet Office’s cost-cutting Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), is to leave the civil service.

Watmore, who besides his chief operating officer role within ERG was also permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office, is leaving for an unspecified future at the end of June after a seven year career in the civil service. His departure raises question marks over who his ERG successor will be.

Watmore’s impending departure follows a string of recent ERG exits, including government CIO Joe Harley, deputy CIO Bill McLuggage and G-Cloud programme director Chris Chant.

Watmore helped create the ERG to ensure that departments across Whitehall adopted a new and ambitious approach to saving money and started working together to ensure the greatest economy of scale when buying goods and services, including ICT. ERG ensures departments work together to tackle waste and improve accountability across a range of areas.

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Ian has played an important role in establishing the Efficiency and Reform Group within the Cabinet Office. This group put in place tough cross-Whitehall controls on property, procurement and ICT in 2010. As a result we have helped departments deliver billions of pounds in cash savings for the taxpayer. He has assembled an enormously impressive team in ERG who will carry forward this crucial agenda.”

Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service, said under Watmore’s leadership, the government had made “great strides in transparency, procurement and eradicating waste in public spending – putting the government on track to deliver £9bn in cash savings to date and double the amount of business going to SMEs, setting up the government’s Digital Service and launching the first government mutual joint venture. Ian has also led the creation of the Major Projects Authority that oversees projects worth in excess of £400bn and the new Major Projects Leadership Academy to build the skills of senior project leaders across government.”

Melanie Dawes, currently the director general running the Economic and Domestic Secretariat in the Cabinet Office will be acting permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office pending a competition to find Watmore’s successor.

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