The search is on for a new e-envoy in the UK following the news that Alex Allan is leaving the position after less than a year in office.
Allan, the former High Commissioner to Australia, is returning to Australia at the end of the month due to his wife's ill health.
Allan had warned the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Richard Wilson, this summer that he may have to return home later in the year. Wilson will be making future arrangements to cover any gap while a replacement is found.
"I am sorry to be standing down from the post of e-envoy," said Allan. "I have found the job hugely stimulating and it has not been an easy decision."
Allan has been the public face for a number of government schemes, including changes to the way IT contracts are awarded, as well as the planned introduction of more IT training programmes, and more computers in schools and public libraries.
He has also toured internationally, beating the drum for Britain's desired status as haven for ecommerce at a time when the UK government has been under steady fire from the IT industry following a series of unpopular decisions.
First, the government altered tax laws so contractors would have to pay significantly more, and it upset a coalition of IT industry, business leaders and civil rights groups over the introduction of legislation that would allow police to read private emails.
However, IT leaders said today that a replacement must be put in place as soon as possible.
"First, let me wish Alex and his wife all the best and I hope things go well for them in Australia, but the government must fill the gap quickly," John Higgins, director general of the Computing Services and Software Association, told vnunet.com.
"The new e-envoy must be someone of the top calibre - a fighter. He must be able to drive forward the current plans aggressively, tackle the Treasury and act as a champion for the new economy," he added.
Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Internet Service Providers Association, said: "It's a shame he's had to go and for the reasons given. He's only been in the job nine months, which wasn't long enough for him to prove himself.
"But the key issue is how quickly he will be replaced and who by. The government has very ambitious plans and needs to put another e-envoy in place quickly."
Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers has announced a £5.7m contribution to US company JDS Uniphase, which is investing £32.2m in the UK. It will create 1000 hi-tech jobs.
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