Blair hires Big Mac for key e-job

Since moving to the Cabinet Office, MacDonald’s full portfolio of responsibility has not been fleshed out, but an announcement is said to be due in the very near future, according to Westminster sources.

The Cabinet Office is next week expected to announce that Macdonald will take over responsibility for overseeing how the government delivers online services, how it awards public sector IT contracts and how new technologies are used within the civil service.

If confirmed, MacDonald, a former transport minister, would effectively be taking over as e-government minister from the former Cabinet Office minister of state, Ian McCartney, now Minister for Pensions.

It would see MacDonald oversee the e-envoy’s office led by Andrew Pinder, and would place him at the heart of e-government alongside minister for ecommerce Douglas Alexander MP and under e-minister Patricia Hewitt, who has kept her title despite becoming secretary of state at the Department of Trade and Industry.

A Cabinet Office spokesman declined to comment on the story, but did confirm that no senior figure had taken over McCartney’s e-government responsibilities, but that an announcement would be made regarding them in the near future.

He also confirmed that an announcement regarding changes to MacDonald’s portfolio would also be made in the near future.

MacDonald, a former television presenter and Glasgow shipyard worker, was appointed a transport minister in June 1999 under John Prescott when the Deputy Prime Minister headed up the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions.

At the time, MacDonald’s appointment was accompanied by accusations of ‘cronyism’ because of his close association with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Ian Lynch writes for

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