Well, it’s not that easy… For a start what to say? Those are my present thoughts, it may change between now and Wednesday 31st March!!
I have no intention of making a long speech: first of all since it would bore you, who have been so kind as to sacrifice your precious time to read this.
And, second, because, if you are really interested in what I have to say you can always keep on following this for more!!
I just wish to make three observations, regarding the past, the present, and the future. This I will do in reverse order, starting with the future…
This is a borough with a long and prestigious history, and our organisation with a tradition and a glorious past and much to be credited for. Suffice to say that against this backdrop, the future is here, already surrounding us:
the unstoppable pace of regeneration and demographic change
the Olympic and Paralympic games in two years time
the transformation of the public services
the “modernisation” of evrything
the ever pressing rush of technological change…
the emergence of national initiatives such as the Public Services Network
Only our organisation can claim leadership of these changes, leadership of the future before it turns into our present, then our unchangeable past. Once again mastering the future will require innovation and courage, and the ability to identify and mitigate risks.
This, I am confident, we will continue to do.
Thus our present is full of challenges. The IT service base budget now is less than half what it was in 1993. Yet we support ten times the number of users and support incomparably more complex applications than ever before. Our contractual cost base is excessive, and more costs have arisen, with issues of security, compliance and the mobile agenda.
We will meet these challenges, and I have no doubt that residents and businesses expect no less from the Council.
We should expect no less from the IT service, which is now at the centre of much of what we do, day in and day out.
By “IT service” I mean of course the complex mix of services, support, development, improvements and other activities encompassing contract management, telephony and modernisation.
This takes us back, seamlessly, to the past.
It has already been said: what is achieved is achieved by the long term workforce, mainly local women and men whose dedication to public service and the locality overcomes obstacles, and occasional managerial ineptitude.
So it is that I wish to thank the many colleagues who contributed to the successes of this service over the past seventeen years, but also take my share of the blame for some of the managerial ineptitude.
The hallmark of the professional manager is indeed to confront the consequences of her/his actions. This we have done.
I will not name those people I wish to thank, since this would be unfair to the many who cannot be named, or whose names we have forgotten.
I wish however to thank particularly:
The experienced and supportive Cabinet Members who led the changes and stood by this service through perilous times: without you nothing would have been possible…
You were here when I arrived in 1993, and I hope you will still be here after May, to support our new Head of service.
Those colleagues in this department and our services who were my mentors during the first ten years – and what a learning period that was!
Those colleagues, both within and our contractors, who contributed to the early projects, singularly the huge development of the infrastructure that is still supporting our work,
The colleagues who picked up the many challenges of the Millennium and moved on to embrace the brave new world of “e-government”
The participants, here and elsewhere, to project Nomad, that heralded the present revolution in mobile computing,
The colleagues who got a grip on information management,
compliance and information security, well before it became obvious to our organisation that this was for real, not an optional nicety… and in the absence of serious resources, and in the face of futile denial
Our partners in Health and Social Care without whom we would never have grasped the importance of IT and information governance for the health and welfare of our residents
The colleagues and friends in the South-East London partnership, aptly named “Sealegs”, without whom we would have probably forgotten the importance of peer reviews – and the confidence that can be gained from it and the shared experience
The early champions of the London Grid for Learning, and its successor the LPSN at London Councils…
My peers in the Socitm….
And finally the special friends in our service who made sure the team and I kept going during hard times and under fire….
Thank you for your patience, bless you all.