16 November 2000 | Cathy Hayward
Andrew Pinder, a former director of IT at the Inland Revenue with private-sector experience in the operations and technology divisions at Citibank and Prudential, has been appointed as a stopgap e-envoy, following the resignation last month of Alex Allan.
The announcement came amid speculation that the role could be merged with the small business and e-commerce portfolio and given cabinet status. E-minister Patricia Hewitt would then be the obvious contender for the position.
"Creating an e-cabinet minister role would reflect the government's commitment to becoming an e-nation," said a source close to the government. "If this is the intention, then the government should have made this clear when advertising the role. Potential candidates may have been put off by the remit."
The Cabinet Office would not reveal the shortlist of candidates for the job, which closed last month, but it is understood that Jim Norton, e-commerce director at the Institute of Directors, has declined to stand unless the role is changed. He was a close runner-up to Allan in 1998.
Ann Steward, director of the Cabinet Office IT unit, has been hotly tipped, but Norton has publicly backed Richard Barrington, director of industry at the e-envoy's office. Legal and General e-specialist Margaret Smith is also in the running.
An announcement is due to be made on 23 November.