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Big government ICT shoes to fill

by Paris Cowan •
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Great opportunities currently exist for government ICT personnel, with four senior CIO positions being advertised with federal and NSW government agencies.

The APS jobs website lists two Senior Executive Service (SES) positions with ICT responsibilities, both based in the ACT with federal departments:

  • Chief Information Officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); and
  • Chief Information and Knowledge Officer with the Department of Health and Ageing.

Furthermore there are a number of comings and goings within the NSW jurisdiction. Stephen Wilson, CIO of the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) has become the second senior CIO in a month to resign from the state’s public sector, widening a void at the top of the NSW Government’s ICT executive.

Mr Wilson has headed the largest ICT unit in the NSW Government, which last year was allocated a capital expenditure budget over $212 million, much of which went towards rolling out the Digital Education Revolution in partnership with the Federal Government.  Intermedium’sBudget IT tool shows that in terms of operational expenditure for that year, DET is likely to have received around $271 million, bringing its ICT total for 2009-10 to $483m

DET received $207 million for capital expenditure in the latest NSW budget, most of which was earmarked for the continuation of projects that had already commenced under Wilson’s oversight.

ZDNet has reported that Mr Wilson will join Qantas as its head of technology. His resignation from the NSW public service follows that of NSW Health CIO Craig Smith only four weeks ago.

Mr Smith’s resignation comes almost 12 months after he took on the position in July 2009, following the promotion of his predecessor Mike Rillstone to the role of Chief Executive of Health Support Services.

Former director of strategy and architecture Greg Wells takes on the role of Acting CIO until the position can be permanently filled.

According to the last two state Budgets, Health is second largest NSW department in terms of ICT expenditure, behind only DET and Transport in terms of capital allocations, and receives the largest estimated operational ICT budget.

Between them, Wilson and Smith leave behind over $700 million worth of incomplete projects.

The former Education CIO may well feel he is handing a relatively easy job onto his successor. The bulk of ICT manoeuvring at the department has already taken place, leaving several giant projects to be continued, but little space for new ones to start. The commenced initiatives include:

  • The $442 million Digital Education Revolution which will ultimately see 200,000 laptops distributed to school kids in NSW;
  • The Connected Classrooms Programwhich aims to nurture a collaborative learning environment through interactive technologies;
  • The Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR)project, which aims at reforming corporate services and student administration at the Department.

The latest budget papers reveal only 5 new ICT projects for DET, 3 of which are phases of the LMBR.

Craig Smith’s replacement, however, will find him or herself faced with a whole-of-department ICT strategy that is currently under review and which is due for renewal in 2011.

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  • Federal
  • NSW
  • Education
  • Health
  • Policy
  • Craig Smith
  • DET
  • DFAT
  • Greg Wells
  • Health and Ageing
  • NSW Health
  • Qantas
  • Stephen Wilson