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Government sees double in tech leadership

Date

Lia Timson

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

Ann Steward

Ann Steward Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Christmas has come early for the federal government technology office, with not one, but two new bosses, appointed this week.

The role of chief information officer (CIO) of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), left vacant after the surprise early retirement of Ann Steward in November, will now be split between two people.

Glenn Archer, former first assistant secretary, policy and planning, will step up to be the new chief information officer, leading a strategic role that will include governance and policy investment advice, and John Sheridan will be chief technology officer, a newly created role.

Double capability... AGIMO will have two tech chiefs from February 2013.

Double capability... AGIMO will have two tech chiefs from February 2013. Photo: Stockbyte

Archer has been CIO of government departments in the past and has had roles in technology companies including Cisco and Apple. John Sheridan, first assistant secretary, agency services division, was responsible for australia.gov.au, the Government Online Directory, and data centre strategy, among other services.

In announcing the appointments on the AGIMO blog on Monday, Archer said the CIO's role had been “diverging between the two distinct areas” of policy and services delivery for some time.

Archer said the change – to take effect on February 4 – would align the agency with the Williams Review that looked into the operational activities and structure of AGIMO, which sits inside the Department of Finance and Deregulation. It recommended a “refocus”, particularly in the area of technology leadership of government agencies, considering policy, analysis of emerging trends and a co-ordinated approach to technology opportunities and services across government.

“Today marks a new era for Australian government ICT,” Archer said in the post.

Sheridan said on Twitter he and Archer were “looking forward to making these changes work really well”. He would now also tweet from the new handle @AusGovCTO

Archer used his Twitter account to thank well-wishers and say “Big shoes to fill – and it takes 2 it seems!”.

Although the change reflects a similar trend taking place in private enterprise – many companies are now splitting the CTO and CIO roles – for some it may not go far enough.

Ovum's research director, Kevin Noonan, said this was the time to review the structure of the whole-of-government IT responsibilities, including moving AGIMO out of the Department of Finance and Deregulation where there had been too much emphasis on cost savings and not enough on strategy.

“We've got some of the change. That's got us part of the way. The next step we will have to watch is how this works out in practice,” Noonan said.

“Separating [the roles] is a good first step. The challenge will be to establish the CIO role as a true strategic role and to make a mark in 2013. All eyes will be on that role to see how it evolves in terms of strategic leadership.”

Noonan said the government tried to minimise the risk of changing too much too quickly, opting instead to restructure the office under Finance.

“It's a low-change, low-risk approach. That appears to be the driver behind it.”

At the time of her departure, Steward told ITPro the challenges for her successor would include fiscal constraints, growing demands to do more with less and identifying the opportunities ICT brought to government.

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4 comments so far

  • Creating new departments was also the end of the Bligh government.
    A new department and new staff, doubling the cost of one department into two.
    The result could be more red tape, more regulation and more nanny approach.

    Commenter
    Dieter
    Location
    Varsity Lakes
    Date and time
    December 19, 2012, 8:07AM
    • What a sad group of people these are. At the peak of the bureaucratic heap.

      Absolutely no interest in local or private sector industry and constantly pursuing ego driven pet internal development projects in conjunction with Finance Department. Business cases which are fabricated, outcomes that are highly exaggerated at a cost to the public that are factors above the private sector.

      What a wonderful investment of my tax dollar.

      Commenter
      Wally Precious
      Date and time
      December 19, 2012, 8:13AM
      • Right, more bureaucrats, more "projects" and moneywasting. Nice.

        Commenter
        Me
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        December 19, 2012, 12:16PM
        • All I can say is thank heavens that we have a government that takes information and communications technology seriously, and is prepared to invest the required resources to deliver actual results. Thanks to over a decade of neglect of the ITC sector by the Howard government, Australia has lost much of the momentum it built during the 1980's and is what used to be called a "backward" nation when it comes to the constructive use of information and communications technology.

          We have a lot of catching up to do, and the obvious place to start is with the systems used by the public sector to develop and deliver the services upon which our nation's economy and civil society depend. The roll-out of the NBN will at least bring our communications system into the 21st Century, but it is vitally important that our public servants are able to make full use of the new possibilities opened up by this massive upgrade in our infrastructure. Many of the services that will be delivered using the NBN have not even been thought of yet, and others, like unified health records, will require considerable ongoing development if they are to make full use of the opporunities provided by the roll-out.

          Unlike the expensive, wasteful and counter-productive "initiatives" of the Howard government (Medical insurance rebate, first home-buyers grant, "baby bonus") the current government's drive to embrace the opportunities opened up by new technologies and to employ them in the best interests of the Australian people will result in a more efficient economy, improved services and a public sector that is both more accessible and more responsive to the needs of the citizens it serves.

          In short, it is an excellent investment in our future as a nation.

          Commenter
          v
          Date and time
          January 02, 2013, 10:52AM

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