Building's flinty assistant editor rarely reveals his sensitive side but his heart softened on news that John Oughton was leaving the OGC
It’s always sad to say goodbye, and that’s just how I felt last week when John Oughton, chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce, confirmed to a room full of journalists that he will leave the organisation at the end of next month.
I only ever met Oughton once before, when I interviewed him two Decembers ago. He wasn’t the most charismatic of men, but he had an easygoing air about him. This was a relief, because his predecessor, Sir Peter Gershon, was criticised as dismissive and egotistical.
Since then I’ve covered the OGC and Oughton’s career fairly extensively, so I feel like I’ve got to know him and his organisation. It hasn’t always been an easy relationship – one of his colleagues joked (presumably) that he wished to shake me by the throat on the following the publication of my article entitled “The more the OGC is decimated, the more celebration there will be”.
My conclusion was that it would lose a chunk of its staff, probably 150 of 400 and that major functions would be swallowed up by the Treasury.
In the end, it has been subsumed by the Treasury and 200 staff are to go. It’s been an interesting story to follow, and the OGC has won a minor victory with some strengthened powers. Oughton can probably take some satisfaction in that – and leave with a smile, happy that he's proved the critics wrong. Critics such as myself, and those in government departments who have been particularly unrelenting for the past few years.