London: The consulting industry is to lose one of its most sympathetic ears at the heart of UK government next month when Ian Watmore, Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office, leaves the Civil Service.
Watmore, who in 2000 was the youngest ever UK managing partner of what was then Andersen Consulting, will step down at the end of June, after a seven year career in the Civil Service, six of them as Permanent Secretary in three different roles.
He was appointed Chief Operating Officer at the head of the Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group in June 2010. He took on the additional role of Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office in January.
Responding to his surprise resignation, Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said, "Ian (Watmore) 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, "Ian has established the efficiency and reform agenda firmly across government. Under his leadership, we have made great strides in transparency, procurement and eradicating waste in public spending — putting the government on track to deliver £9 billion 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 creation of the Major Projects Authority (MPA) that oversees projects worth in excess of £400 billion and the new Major Projects Leadership Academy to build the skills of senior project leaders across Government."
Watmore himself commented, "I have greatly enjoyed my time in the Civil Service, which is one of Britain's best assets. I admire the wonderful people who work in it, and will miss them greatly. It has been a privilege to have served as a Permanent Secretary in three roles, for three Prime Ministers, and feel lucky to have been able to do this after a long business career."
Watmore began his career in Andersen Consulting (later Accenture) in 1980. In 2000 he was elected as the youngest ever Managing Director of Andersen Consulting UK by the UK leadership team and managed the transition to public company status as Accenture.
Ironically, Watmore's most high-profile role was outside government — he was Group Chief Executive of the Football Association, The FA, from which he resigned, amidst public controversy, in March 2010.
It is not yet obvious what he will do next. A Cabinet Office statement says he is returning to his home in Cheshire to focus on "non-executive and spousal roles in charity, sports, academic and church activities."
In March, Watmore was appointed to the England Rugby 2015 board, which will organise the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.