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August 14, 2014

Why has the Department for Education’s CIO resigned?

And what happens to Rachel Murphy-Cooper's IT projects?

By Joe Curtis

The Department for Education’s CIO has stepped down less than a year into the role.

Rachel Murphy-Cooper was appointed to the position in November 2013 as interim CIO, tasked with overhauling IT and cutting costs, but she has left the position open with a general election looming next year.

On her LinkedIn profile, she says she is "now seeking a senior interim or programme assignment", though whether this is an update to her profile or not is unclear.

CBR has asked DfE when Murphy-Cooper’s replacement will be sought and what is happening to the projects she was implementing.

Like other Whitehall departments, DfE is trying to transform its services to go digital, including the Schools Performance Data Programme, which should bring together school spending data, school performance data, pupil cohort data and Ofsted judgments in a parent-friendly portal, searchable by postcode.

Murphy-Cooper has a mix of public sector and private sector experience, appointed as head of operations at May Gurney to introduce a new computer system and head of professional services at IT services firm Kelway UK, where she redesigned the IT services department.

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She has also worked in technical roles at Central Bedfordshire Council and London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Other recent Whitehall tech role departures include news last month that Denise McDonagh is set to retire as Home Office CTO and Mike Stone becoming CIO for the Ministry of Defence, after the department decided to replace Yvonne Ferguson after just five months in the job.

The MoD is embarking on a two-year programme to overhaul its central IT system, Defence Information Infrastructure, which it admitted in a strategy document last year was rapidly growing out of date.

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