UK civil service has a new boss: Alex Chisholm dubbed permanent secretary for the Cabinet Office

Set to replace John Manzoni on 14 April, but no word on the new chief digi officer

John Manzoni – permanent secretary for the Cabinet Office and CEO of the UK civil service who had an agenda to introduce more digital services – has been replaced with Alex Chisholm.

Chisholm – currently permanent secretary for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – takes on the new role from 14 April, several sources familiar with the matter told The Register.

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: "In the medium term, much of Alex's work will necessarily be coronavirus response related. But Alex will be responsible for supporting ministers to develop and then drive forward a reform programme for the Civil Service, building on the Government's existing efficiency programme. He will also supervise all the Cabinet Office's various work programmes including on preparing for the end of the transition period, strengthening the union, and defending our democracy."

Sir Mark Sedwill, head of the civil service, said: "I have asked Alex to lead the ongoing transformation of the Civil Service to further enhance its efficiency, effectiveness and agility, creating the high-performance, innovative and digitally powered service we need for the times we are in. He will also bring proven leadership skills to help guide and support the 7,000 talented staff who work across the Cabinet Office and its Arm's Length Bodies."

Shortly before the announcement, the move was confirmed in an email distributed internally at the Cabinet Office, in which Chisholm was also named as COO of the civil service, a title formerly held by Stephen Kelly, who went on to run Sage and is currently a director and investor at Kimble Applications.

News that Manzoni, an ex-BP exec, is leaving his high-profile public sector role is not new: according to the FT in January, he was due to leave this summer. But the pace of his departure has surprised several of our sources.

"Although we all knew it was coming this year, everything had been delayed by COVID-19, so I'm surprised this has been announced now," our insider added. "The biggest question/issue/danger for the IT industry is that the Government CDIO has not been announced and Manzoni was leading this."

The £180,000-a-year salaried chief digital information officer role was advertised in September. The job is to cheerlead the government's 17,000-strong digital, data and technology (DD&T) community.

management cio2

UK govt right to outsource everything 15 years ago – civil service boss


One source said the word in Whitehall was that the candidate for CDIO had been chosen but they backed out when they found they had "no budget or clear ownership". The name of that candidate is unknown.

Another source close to government tech questioned what legacy Manzoni leaves in that he didn't put a bullet in the failed Verify scheme, and "didn't understand or support the digital agenda". Government Digital Services has "no influence" in 2020, our source added.

Chisholm is a bit of an unknown entity, at least according to our government IT people. He's been in situ since 2016, and prior to that worked at Pearson plc, the FT, and was chief exec of the Competition and Markets Authority. He actually took a pay cut to leave the CMA and join BEIS. ®

So it appears some of you really don't want us to use the word 'hacker' when we really mean 'criminal'

The votes have been cast and counted... and it's a landslide

Register debate Last week, we argued over whether or not the media, including El Reg, should stop using the word hacker as a pejorative.

This debate came about after infosec pro Alyssa Miller and a few others from the Hacking Is Not A Crime movement politely asked Register vultures on Twitter to quit using the h-word as a lazy shorthand for criminal.

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Vodafone chief gushes over OpenRAN, says commercial deployments to start this year

But still some way to go before standards-based tech can match mainstream products

Last year Vodafone bet big on OpenRAN, announcing it would shift a huge portion of its tower estate to the standards-based tech. Now Andrew Dona, the telco's director of network and development, has shed some light on how this will work.

Speaking to Telecom TV, Dona said Vodafone had already deployed two OpenRAN sites to its production network, situated in the southwest of England. These deployments are part of its testing process, which Dona said would conclude in May.

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Swedish startup Logical Clocks takes a crack at scaling MySQL backend for live recommendations

Takes a 'different approach' to YouTube's Vitess to munch complex transactions in microseconds

Swedish startup Logical Clocks is launching a new key-value database as a managed service, based on the MySQL derivative MySQL NDB Cluster.

The vendor told us its RonDB can be used to provide live data to machine learning models for real-time decision-making – as commonly used in online recommendations and fraud detection.

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Microsoft quantum lab retracts published paper: Readings that cast doubt on crucial discovery went AWOL

Quasiparticle eggheads were 'caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment'

A paper published in Nature two years ago and spearheaded by a Microsoft scientist has been retracted after it emerged that the data presented simply didn't add up.

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Deploy AI workloads with confidence using OpenVINO

Write once, deploy anywhere

Sponsored Artificial Intelligence techniques have been finding their way into business applications for some time now. From chatbots forming the first line of engagement in customer services, to image recognition systems that can identify defects in products before they reach the end of the production line in a factory.

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China outlines plan to boost economy with AI, a cloud OS it controls – and bringing in skilled foreigners

Other fun bits: An 'asteroid patrol', brain:computer fusion, DNA storage, enhanced privacy laws

China has put quantum communications networks and a brain:machine interface on its to-do list in plans unveiled at its annual "Two Sessions" parliamentary sittings.

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Mobile World Congress seemingly serious about in-person Barcelona event in June, shares safety plan

Is Spain really ready for 50,000 people at one venue? Sounds like a super spreader event ready to happen

Mobile World Congress appears determined to run its annual Barcelona super-conference as an in-person event this year, mid-pandemic, posting a safety plan online on Monday.

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GitHub bug briefly gave valid authenticated session cookies to wrong users

Don’t panic: Fewer than 0.001% of sessions compromised through flaw that couldn’t be maliciously triggered

If you visit GitHub today you’ll be asked to authenticate anew because the code collaboration locker has squished a bug that sometimes “misrouted a user’s session to the browser of another authenticated user, giving them the valid and authenticated session cookie for another user.”

GitHub disclosed the problem today, explain that it could only happen under “extremely rare circumstances” and “occurred in fewer than 0.001% of authenticated sessions on”

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Azure flings out free virtual trusted platform module for cloudy VMs

Take that, rootkits and other low-level nasties - if they take a crack at fresh VMs, on certain instance types under a handful of OSes

Microsoft has revealed that its Azure IaaS platform now offers free a virtual trusted platform module.

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Cisco issues blizzard of end-of-life notices for Nexus 3K and 7K switches

Service options decline starting next year... so there may be a Nexus 9K switch in your future

Cisco has in recent days issued a blizzard of end-of-life and end-of-sale announcement for switches in its Nexus 3000 and Nexus 7000 ranges.

By The Register’s count, the networking giant has announced that the 18 devices, listed below, across the ranges will soon be sent to the knacker's yard.

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