Cabinet Office admits PSN mistakes

The Cabinet Office has put in place a new management team to oversee councils’ shift to the Public Services Network (PSN), after admitting mistakes in its previous approach.

In a letter to all PSN stakeholders published yesterday, Cabinet Office chief operating officer Stephen Kelly said that Sarah Hurrell will lead the next stage of the PSN transfer programme, overseeing a new programme director, Mark Pope.

The move follows criticisms over the previous approach taken by the Cabinet Office, which threatened to disconnect councils from PSN if they failed to comply with security requirements by a deadline.

Kelly’s letter said: “…we are aware that the approach applied to those that are yet to comply has not always been right. I listened to concerns about our communications, and I reiterated to senior leaders that I acknowledge those concerns.”

Hurrell is commercial director at the department, and has 20 years’ private sector experience in IT, telecommunications and professional services.

She and Pope have been asked to prioritise effective and constructive engagement and communications with councils

In addition, Kelly said that the Cabinet Office PSN team is currently working on improvements to network designs following feedback from councils gathered at a meeting before Christmas.

He said: “The PSN team will ensure the PSN infrastructure best serves the interests of all public service organisations. This requires ongoing learning from all parties in order to deliver a secure infrastructure that delivers a level of security that is proportionate to the business risk and pragmatic in its implementation.”

Socitm president Steve Halliday welcomed the letter, saying: “We are cautiously confident that the 2014-15 PSN experience will be considerably less frustrating than 2013-14 has been.

“The Stephen Kelly letter sets an excellent tone on which to base this optimism and we are particularly grateful to Stephen for listening and responding in the way he has.”

Colin Marrs

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