Good luck to David PItchford with Universal Credit….

Interesting news from the Financial Times that David Pitchford, Head of the Cabinet Office's Major Projects Authority has been seconded to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to run the Universal Credit programme.

That follows the sad death of the DWP's CIO, Philip Langsdale, around new Year. He only joined the DWP last August and I believe it was known that he was ill, but his death was then shockingly premature. Andy Nelson was then appointed CIO in early February, after working as the government CIO then the Ministry of Justice CIO - although his prior background was private sector.

So one obvious theory might be that Nelson has got into post and pretty quickly shouted "help"! Not the most promising sign, we might suggest.

What seems a little odd though is Pitchford only staying until April. That's hardly time I would have thought to get his head around this huge, complex, politically sensitive and difficult programme. Why isn't he staying to see it through into full implementation at the end of this year? Is he being cautious about aligning himself too thoroughly with the programme?

Another possibility is that he isn’t there so much to drive delivery, but to take stock of where the programme has got to and assess whether any adjustments need to be made. The pilot starting in April is by all accounts ready to go, but the full roll out from October? We’ll see. There are rumours swirling around about whether what is currently planned for that date will be changed or delayed.

Personally, I have real doubts about the real-time reporting of individual’s earnings to the tax authorities (HMRC), which is a critical part of the overall programme. That’s simply speaking as a small business owner myself; it just seems a big step up in complexity from what currently happens.

Anyway, Pitchford has developed a good reputation since he joined OGC (as it then was) in 2009. I've only heard positive things about him, although I don't know him personally. But his management career was in public sector general management, and running sporting events – he was COO for the  2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. His immediate job before UK Government was as Chief Executive of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, the world’s largest land reclamation project  So as far as I know, he has no background in IT management generally or major IT delivery programmes specifically.

So does he have what it takes to keep this huge IT programme on track? We'll know in the next few months, but  the very best of luck to him - it's in the interests of every UK taxpayer that this works!

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Voices (2)

  1. Brian Wernham:

    Well, well… don’t things change fast on the Universal Credit project. She’s gone!

    See here:


  2. Brian Wernham:

    Re: <>

    The new Programme Director for Universal Credit is Hilary Reynolds. She reports to Andy Nelson (the new CIO). She recently announced that October will not be a full-roll-out, but will be very gradual.

    See here:


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