The appointment of Mr John Lee as Director General of the Department of Commerce completes a round of reshuffles precipitated by the Ministerial changes that followed the March re-election of the Iemma government.
The appointment, announced on 8 August, follows the move of Michael Coutts-Trotter from his DG role at Commerce to the Department of Education and Training. In other key changes since the election, Robyn Kruk has moved from her DG role at the NSW Department of Health (NSW Health) to the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DP&C) and Debora Picone has been promoted into the DG role at NSW Health.
The appointments appear to align Ministers with their choice of departmental head.
Mr Lee was previously the Chief Executive of the State Transit Authority. Over the past seven years he has held a number of senior positions within the NSW transport sector, including Director General of the Ministry of Transport. In this role his major achievement is cited as the rationalisation of over 100 bus contracts. Mr Lee is also a past Managing Director of Westbus, a large private bus operator. Prior to his Westbus role, Mr Lee was Executive Director of Communications and Marketing at State Rail.
Given that the Minister of Commerce, Eric Roozendaal, is also the Minister for Roads, this brings a heavy transport background to the most senior levels of the Commerce portfolio. Policy intent around the ICT procurement and Government Chief Information Officer functions within the Department may therefore be difficult to discern for some time. Robyn Kruk worked with the Premier, Morris Iemma, when he was Minister for Health. The move of the Cabinet Office into the Premier’s Department following the election makes the new DP&C more powerful as a central policy and co-ordination body than either the old Premiers or old Cabinet Office were. Ms Kruk therefore becomes one of the most powerful public servants in NSW.
The most recent organisation chart for DP&C includes the Premiers Delivery Unit, the establishment of which was flagged in the February 2006 Economic and Financial Statement. The functions of this Unit will almost certainly impact government use of ICT in NSW.
Despite the use of an international search firm, the role at NSW Health left vacant by Ms Kruk was filled from within the NSW Health by Associate Professor Debora Picone. Ms Picone, previously the Chief Executive of the South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service (SESIAHS) has also been a Deputy Director General Strategic Development in NSW Health. Ms Picone is a Registered Nurse with post basic qualifications in renal medicine. Her 30-year career has a health services, clinical and management background.
Ms Picone has wasted no time in filling some key senior roles in NSW Health, including two area administration CEO roles.