Honorary Graduate - 2009
Lieutenant General Sir Edmund Burton
Lieutenant General Sir Edmund Burton was educated at Cheltenham College, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. He was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1963 and has served in a variety of regimental and staff appointments in the UK, Germany and in the USA, before his retirement from the Army in 2000.
He attended the Army Staff Course at Shrivenham in 1975, followed by the Royal Navy Staff Course, returning to Shrivenham as a member of the Directing Staff in 1982 and, finally, as Commandant, from 1991 to 1994. In the latter appointment he became the Ministry of Defence representative on the Defence and Aerospace Panel of the Technology Foresight Programme.
His early service was undertaken in Germany and Northern Ireland. On completion of his command of 27 Regiment Royal Artillery in 1st (British) Corps in 1985, he was appointed OBE, and posted to the Ministry of Defence as sponsor of future indirect fire and air defence capabilities. He attended the first Higher Command and Staff Course in 1987, before returning to Germany as Commander Royal Artillery, 1st (UK) Armoured Division. In 1989 he was appointed Military Attaché and Commander British Army Staff in the British Embassy, Washington DC, a period including the US invasion of Panama, the re-unification of Germany and the first Gulf War.
His final appointment in 1997, as Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Systems) in the Ministry of Defence, bore responsibility for the future equipment capabilities of the Armed Services and the underpinning applied research programme. During this period he led the transformation of the process for defining future defence equipment capabilities, based on the Joint Service Doctrine, and the establishment of the Central MOD Customer and Capability Management organization. In 1999 he was appointed KBE and on 1 March 2000 he was appointed visiting Professor of Cranfield University.
On his retirement from the Army, in 2000, he was invited by the Cabinet Secretary and the Director of GCHQ to undertake reviews of GCHQ’s New Accommodation Programme and of the Communications Electronics Security Group. The latter led to the establishment of the Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, within the Cabinet Office, and the issue of a National Strategy for Information Assurance in 2003. In 2001 he was appointed, by the Home Secretary, to be Executive Chairman of the Police IT Organisation, with responsibility for the development, procurement and through service support of national IT and communications capabilities for policing.
In 2007 he became chairman of the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC), a not-for-profit organization, bringing together corporate leaders, public policy makers, law enforcers and the research community to address the assurance challenges of the UK ‘information society’. In early 2008 he was invited by the Secretary of State to undertake a review of MOD’s data losses. His report was published alongside the Cabinet Office Data Handling Review, and the Thomas/Walport, Coleman and Poynter reports on data losses.
He is now supporting the Cabinet Office in two key areas: the High Potential Development Scheme and the implementation of the Government Information Assurance Strategy. He is also strategic advisor to Avail Consulting, which provides consultancy services to public sector organizations.
Having been actively involved in the education, training, career development, promotion boarding and appointment of officers over many years, Sir Edmund’s particular interest is in the professional development of leaders facing the challenge of working in an uncertain and changing environment. He has also worked closely with Civil Service colleagues and with Industry over the past 30 years. He recently chaired a conference in London for the National School of Government and HM Treasury, addressing Information Risk, attended by over 200 non-executive directors of government departments and agencies. He is a fellow of the British Computer Society (BCS) and of the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET).