The South Australia Government's Chief Information Officer (CIO), Grantly Mailes, tendered his resignation late last week, leaving the role after almost three years in the job. He is the last is a long line of relatively short-lived government CIOs around Australia.
His three-year tenure technically makes him the longest serving GCIO in any jurisdiction, federal or state. In Queensland, the well regarded Peter Grant has been in quasi-CIO roles for longer, but only recently formally secured the CIO position.
A new and attractive position in his home state of Victoria was the decisive factor behind Mailes‟ resignation, according to media coverage.
If his resignation was an isolated occurrence, this explanation might be all there is to it. However, his resignation is another in a long line across all jurisdictions, commencing with Andy McDonald at the federal level in early 1998.
Paul Edgecumbe, NSW‟s first formal Chief Information Officer resigned suddenly in April 2007, claiming „his job was done‟, amid concerns that his continuing poor health might have been a factor.
Victoria has seen its CIO role effectively abolished and its CIO, long time bureaucrat Jane Treadwell, sidelined to the Department of Communities. Treadwell held the role from mid 2005 until the end of 2007.
Prior to Treadwell, Victoria‟s first CIO, Patrick Hannah, lasted just a year before resigning suddenly, citing the explanation that he needed to spend more time with his family.
Can we learn from the federal experience?
While we are only on the “second round” of CIOs at the state level, the federal government struggled through a number of appointments and a number of organisational rearrangements over the last decade before settling on the current model.
Canadian, Andy McDonald was appointed in mid 1995 to a position that was the precursor of a Government Chief Information Officer role at the Office of Government Information Technology (OGIT). He lasted until early 1998, when it was merged into the Office of Asset Sales and Information Technology Outsourcing. By all accounts, it was an unhappy time all round.
McDonald was succeeded by Glenys Roper. Roper had been at the Office of Asset Sales and took over from McDonald when it moved into OASITO. The functions then went to the Office of Government Online (OGO). Ms Roper left to pursue „other interests‟ in October 2000 when OGO was merged with the National Office of the Information Economy (NOIE).
In a separate thread, the Chief Executive Officer role of NOIE became vacant in July 2000 when former Austrade and McKinsey executive Dr Paul Twomey left for the private sector. Twomey was succeeded at NOIE by John Grant who steered its path to become the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO). Anne Steward however won the permanent role to become the first CIO in July 2005.
The Mailes‟ Track Record
One of the most significant projects in Mailes' charge was the SA government's Future ICT program, which replaced a 10-year long agreement between the SA government and EDS for the provision of IT infrastructure.
The Future ICT Service Arrangements Program was established to provide a strategic framework for the procurement of ICT goods and/or services that will ensure the SA Government is able to meet its ICT service requirements. The Future ICT program is set to save SA $30million per annum.
Prior to Mailes‟ resignation, it was announced that NEC had won a major contract to provide equipment, maintenance and management services for the Government‟s central voice communications infrastructure. The Government‟s central infrastructure comprises more than 35,000 phone services across the State and is one of the largest of its type in the southern hemisphere. The new solution will also upgrade the current system to include VOIP technology.
Other winners in the Future ICT program include Acer, Dell, HP and Volante who were awarded in July 2006 contracts for desktop, notebooks and servers. The total value of these contracts was $112m.
As yet there is no information on who will replace Grantly Mailes.