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Comprehensive restructure moves IT up the priority list at DAFF

by Paris Cowan •
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ICT is on the up and up at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, with an expanded division to be established in support of an overhaul of the agency’s biosecurity systems.

DAFF is on the hunt for an experienced Executive Manager who will guide the agency through the establishment of the new information, communication and technology division.

While the final dimensions of the new division will remain unknown until the Executive Manager is installed and has had time to submit plans for the restructure, it has been suggested that it may well absorb the existing ICT unit which is located in the Corporate Services division.

The ICT unit is currently headed up by Chief Information Officer Steve Foley, whose position sits at an SES band 1 level.  In contrast, the soon-to-be-appointed Executive Manager of the new ICT division will enjoy an SES band 2 position, reflecting the elevation of ICT to a key priority at the Department.

The Executive Manager will also be expected to update DAFF’s ICT Strategic Plan in accordance with the changes taking place. The current plan, which was finalised in 2009, was set to cover the years 2010-15 but will now face a comprehensive refresh.

This revision of its ICT structure forms part of a wider change program at the department, which will focus specifically on its biosecurity functions.

The Deputy Secretary for Biosecurity at DAFF, Rona Mellor, told Intermedium that the Department is currently running “pretty old IT that does the job of today but not the job of tomorrow”.

“As a result of changed business processes and reinvestment strategies, we need to develop more capability than we currently have,” she said.

The change program follows on from recommendations made by Roger Beale in his 2008 review of Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity arrangements (the Beale Review).

The review recommended that the IT systems that support biosecurity be upgraded, to make them more user friendly, to make data more accessible and to improve connectivity with other border agencies. It also recommended that the upgraded system work to eliminate remaining paper-based systems.

It was advised that the Commonwealth invest $225 million over a number of years to facilitate the upgrade and make amends for past underfunding of biosecurity systems.

Intermedium’scontract analysis tool, AnalyseIT, revealed that DAFF’s total ICT spend on contracts published on Austender in 2009-10 amounted to $17.9 million. In the 2010-11 financial it has already surpassed this total, with $21.5 million worth of ICT contracts signed to date, of which more than $19 million has been spent on IT Services.

Mellor says the establishment of the new division will be crucial to meeting the objectives outlined by the Beale Review.

“We are embarking on a change process, part of which is to more effectively use IT for our business,” she said.  “We need to change the way that IT supports our capabilities.”

A review of the whole biosecurity business plan at DAFF has also been granted approval to proceed to the second pass stage.

Applications for the position of Executive Manager of ICT close on 26 May.


Related Articles:

Federal Budget 2011: ICT will continue to ride high on $1b carried over from 2010

Ambitious information systems transformation underway at ACMA

DAFF takes out contract with EDS

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