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The changing fortunes of the Whole of Government CIO role

by Sam Murphy •
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Just as a number of Australian jurisdictions are eliminating or downplaying the Whole of Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) role, New Zealand’s Finance and Expenditure Committee (FEC) has recommended that the GCIO role be extended.

The FEC suggests that the role would help “make sustainable savings of $100 million a year on the state sector’s ICT transactions by 2017”, as mandated by the NZ Government.

The NZ GCIO, Colin MacDonald, is currently responsible for the implementation of the ICT Action Strategy and Plan. If the FEC’s recommendation is accepted, the ICT Action Strategy and Plan would extend to cover District Health Boards (DHB) and several crown agencies “with substantial investment in, and a high volume of, ICT business transactions”.

According to the FEC, “The direction is expected to make government ICT more efficient and effective by enabling commonality, coherence, and cost savings, and by allowing the Government Chief Information Officer to provide wider leadership”.

While the GCIO role is strengthening in NZ, across the Australian public sector the status is however in a state of flux: 

  • The Federal Government has shelved the position;
  • NSW has moved its functions to the Office of Finance and Services’ Chief Executive;
  • Victoria has a Chief Technology Advocate rather than a GCIO, although  the role covers similar functions;
  • The Northern Territory has received a recommendation to introduce the position;
  • Queensland and South Australia both have a GCIO role;
  • No such role exists in Western Australia or Tasmania.


Following former AGCIO, Glenn Archer’s resignation in February 2014, the Federal Government opted not to replace him. Finance’s Assistant Secretary for Government Network Services, Chris Dale made the announcement in May 2014 at the CeBIT conference.

Archer assumed an AGCIO role with a reduced span of responsibility from the last AGCIO, Ann Steward, answering to Deputy Secretary Stein Helgeby.  John Sheridan assumed the role of Australian Government Chief Technology Officer (AGCTO), as well as head of Procurement, answering to Deputy Secretary Jan Mason.

Dale told the CeBIT conference that Rosemary Deininger, the First Assistant Secretary of the Efficiency, Assurance and Digital Government Division would be taking on some of Archer’s functions. He said that Deininger “will oversee Whole of Government (WofG) ICT policy and investment, and will chair ICT governance bodies such as the Australian Government’s Chief Information Officer Committee.”

The National Commission of Audit recommended that the Government create the position of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to spearhead a move to make all interaction with citizens online by default. “The transition to e-Government would have far more traction if core expertise was consolidated in a single team led by a chief digital officer,” notes the Audit. It adds, “This would be a senior role filled by an accomplished private sector leader who has driven a major digital transition process.”


Secretary of the Department of Finance and Services (DFS), Laurie Glanfield held the role of GCIO until May 2014 when DFS became an Office within the Department of the Treasury as the result of a cabinet reshuffle by new Premier Mike Baird.

A spokesperson from the Office of Finance and Services (OFS) confirmed that the position of GCIO would now be held by the OFS Chief Executive. That position is currently occupied by John Hubby who was formerly the Deputy Secretary of Corporate Services at DFS, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The incorporation of the role of GCIO into the role of the head of Finance and Services commenced when Michael Coutts-Trotter took on the role, following the departure of previous GCIO, Emmanuel Rodriguez in December 2010.  The Office of the GCIO that supported Rodriguez was split into policy and operations divisions at that time, in a move that presaged the split of the Australian Government Information Office, following the retirement of inaugural GCIO, Ann Steward.

Glanfield had been in the role for less than a year after taking over from Coutts-Trotter who had moved to head the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).


The NT does not have a whole-of-government CIO but a Review into the Northern Territory’s Management of ICT Projects by Government Agencies has recommended the appointment of one.

The review followed the scrapping of the Territory’s $70 million Asset Management System which was described as “unacceptable”. The review noted a whole-of-government CIO, “…would support and strengthen the ICT Governance Framework, coordinate Framework activities and provide a central resource and reference point.”

NT is yet to comment on the recommendation.


Former South Australian GCIO Andrew Mills is the current Queensland GCIO.  His role sits within the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA).

The then Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, significantly enhanced the position of GCIO in 2011, and Peter Grant, who had previously held the lesser role was subsequently appointed. During his tenure, he oversighted an audit of ICT systems which found the Government would face costs of up to  $5 billion to bring its systems up to date.

Grant was removed as GCIO in 2013, as Glenn Walker was made responsible for carrying out the IT renewal program. Walker resigned in March 2014 and took up a position with software vendor Technology One. The next GCIO, Andrew Mills, was appointed in January to the position, with a key responsibility of providing advice to the Queensland Directors-General Council in the implementation of the Queensland ICT Strategy


Bret Morris stepped into the position of GCIO following Mills’ departure in January 2014.  Core to Morris’ role is  the task of implementing the State’s ICT Strategy, released in 2013.

Grantly Mailes was appointed as South Australia’s first GCIO in 2005.


Grantly Mailes is the Deputy Secretary and Chief Technology Advocate at Department of State Development and Innovation (DSBI) in Victoria.

Mailes is Victoria’s first Chief Technology Advocate. The CTA has a similar function to a CIO, supporting Whole-of-Government ICT functions. Mailes explained to Intermedium, “[The position] is recognition that what the State needs at the moment is to embrace recent innovations in technology, service delivery and our use of ICT, hence the title ‘Advocate’ and not CIO or CTO.” 

Victoria abolished its GCIO position in 2007 with its functions absorbed into the Victorian Treasury’s Government Technology Group. The position of CTA was introduced after the State’s ICT Strategy, launched in February 2013, identified the need for stronger ICT leadership.



Related Articles:

Finance absorbs AGIMO, name is left in brackets

SA CIO Andrew Mills to become Queensland GCIO in 2014

Victoria creates Chief Technology Advocate role and appoints Grantly Mailes

The ebb and flow of the GCIO: Former Government CIOs share their views


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