Order of the Bath for services to government and the public sector
For the first time in many years, one of the highest awards handed out in the twice-yearly honours lists has gone to a senior figure on the government IT scene. Ray Long, programme director at the Department for Work and Pensions’ digital group, has been made Companion of the Order of the Bath for services to government and the public sector.
Long, who is also immediate past president of the BCS, began his IT career as a computer programmer at the Department of Health and Social Security in 1977. He rose to take leadership positions in some of the most complex - and controversial - IT enabled change programmes, including the Government Gateway and the NHS Choose and Book service. His most recent responsibilities include heading infrastructure modernisation at the DWP.
From 2008-11, Long led in-depth assessments of the Government’s largest programmes and projects for the Treasury’s Major Projects Review Group. These included London 2012, Building Schools for the Future, the National Identity Scheme, the NHS National Programme for IT, the Carbon Capture and Storage programme and the Social Housing PFI programme.
In recent years the honours lists have bypassed digital leaders in the civil service, perhaps from political nervousness following the spate of high profile failures in the 1990s and 2000s. Long’s award is the more remarkable because of his association with the often maligned NHS National Programme for IT, where he was responsible for the Choose and Book service from 2007-2008. During that time he delivered two system upgrades and increased take-up of the service from 38% to 50%.
Interviewed by UKAuthority last year, Long spoke of the lessons learned in managing large and complex IT implementations. “It's very difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee they will work all the time,” he said. “You have to set expectations so people won't expect levels of reliability and availability that will be incredibly expensive or impossible to deliver.”
Image from BCS