CIO50 2011: What's on the cards for the UK's top CIOs

Technology helping organisations get leaner and meaner...

westminster CIOs

One-fifth of this year's CIO50 list are IT leaders from the public sectorPhoto: Shutterstock

With IT seen as the linchpin of the drive to transform government into a leaner beast, it's no surprise that public sector CIOs have such a strong showing in this year's CIO50.

Government's prominence on the list of the UK's most influential and innovative heads of IT reflects the calibre and ambition of the work being undertaken within the public sector, as authorities turn to technology to help them become more efficient at a time when there is little money for new projects.

Not only are one-fifth of this year's list public sector IT chiefs, but the number one spot is taken by veteran government CIO Jos Creese - an IT leader committed to technology being more than just a back-office function.

Within Hampshire County Council, Creese has contributed to major business and technology transformation projects - including supporting staff who want to work flexibly - and the setting up of a countywide public services network that is saving the council more than £1m each year.

Another authority pioneering the technology-led transformation demanded of the public sector is Westminster City Council, where CIO David Wilde is overseeing the move to reduce its internal IT infrastructure to zero by 2015, using a mixture of cloud computing, outsourcing and shared services.

Much of Westminster's IT already operates as a private cloud-based service, a move that has reduced costs by almost one-third - and further savings will be realised when the council merges parts of its IT department with that of neighbouring authorities the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Perhaps the most daunting task within public sector IT is being undertaken by UK government CIO Joe Harley, who is being asked to repeat the success he has had as Department for Work and Pensions CIO, where he has overseen a £6bn, five-year business process modernisation programme. However, this time Harley must mastermind change across the whole of government, leading the drive to deliver on the coalition's aim of cutting IT running costs and shifting more public services and information online.

An online agenda is also being pursued locally, as witnessed at Leeds City Council where CIO Dylan Roberts is introducing self-service for staff and driving form filling and other "low complexity" tasks onto the web, hoping to make certain services cheaper and easier to use.

And for another ambitious project, look no further than Birmingham City Council, where corporate director of business change Glyn Evans is heading the largest business transformation programme ever undertaken by a local authority in the UK - changing everything from the way the council procures goods and services to how it administers the collection of council tax.

These change programmes are made even more challenging by...