Stephen Kelly appointed “COO for (UK) Government”

Stephen Kelly has been appointed the Chief Operating Officer in the Cabinet Office. He’s being called “Chief Operating Officer for Government” in the announcement  – I wonder how delivery Departments feel about Cabinet Office using that sort of terminology? Does that mean he’s in charge of Universal Credit operations? Or building the new Aircraft Carrier? In practice, he will lead the Efficiency and Reform Group in Cabinet Office – so the role Ian Watmore originally came in to do post election.

Whilst the Cabinet Office website is short of tangible detail, I assume that he is reporting to Richard Heaton, Permanent Secretary, and that Bill Crothers, Chief Procurement Officer, reports to Kelly. And when the job was advertised, it was a three year appointment on £140,000 a year, although one assumes that Kelly is not short of a bob or two after his successful business career. (How many millionaires are there in the senior ranks of Cabinet Office now – must do a count!)

Stephen Kelly, new Government COO

I haven’t met him, but he looks remarkably like a US actor playing a top businessman (that’s a compliment by the way). According to this Telegraph article, “he's best friends with Francis Maude”, but he certainly has an impressive track record, independent of any friendships. The Telegraph again:

“After nine years helping to build Chordiant, a US customer relations business, into a darling of the Nasdaq stock exchange, Kelly bizarrely quit to become chief executive of Micro Focus, a small UK software company that was at the time in chaos. Within just a few years, Kelly tripled revenues, doubled profit margins and turned a £200m company into one worth £1bn. When he announced his resignation, the stock plunged, wiping £100m from the share price...”

And here’s a coincidence – Kelly was succeeded as CEO at Microfocus by Nigel Clifford, who I met recently as he took over earlier this year as Chief Executive at Procserve, who provide the Cabinet Office / Government Procurement Service e-Marketplace.

Anyway, more recently , Kelly has been working in Cabinet Office, leading the attempt to drive mutualisation, one of the key aspects of the Big Society.  He's also I hear had some involvement in  the government negotiations with big IT firms such as Oracle. My sources say he is a “good guy and very personable”.  So good luck to him and we await with interest his views on a whole host of public procurement issues....

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