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Speaking at the AIIA Canberra Managers’ Forum on Wednesday 14 September, Roze Frost, the CSIRO’s CIO outlined the way in which her business unit will be taking responsibility for the IT requirements of CSIRO’s 22 separate and geographically dispersed Divisions.

CSIRO has 6500 staff and 2000 visiting fellows and students. Their needs are serviced by 11,000 desktops and 300 IT staff.

Ms Frost, a long time IT industry participant, made the point that she is frustrated by what she sees as a continual reinventing of the wheel around best practice. She is a staunch advocate of the UK government’s ITIL approach, stating it should become the industry standard as it is just “documented common sense”. The challenge that should be facing government IT decision makers is how to streamline and integrate service delivery, not how to manage IT delivery.

Ms Frost also has little time for “unique” requirements when a vanilla COTS product should be sufficient. CSIRO expects to do a vanilla implementation of SAP, she explained.

CSIRO’s 22 Divisions had 59 pockets of IT support and each division previously awarded its own contracts. As a result, CSIRO has no way of knowing how much it has been spending on information technology in total across the Divisions. This is now changing.

Six flagship initiatives have been set as national priorities for CSIRO by the Australian government. They are:

  • Food futures
  • Preventative health
  • Energy transformed
  • Water for a healthy country
  • Wealth from the oceans
  • Leading the light metals age

Science data is CSIRO’s major asset supporting the achievement of these and other initiatives. Its library holdings run to 40 km of books. CSIRO has a major challenge in records management and presenting science data sets on the web according to Ms Frost.

CSIRO needs to determine how best to search through its data holdings. This represents an IP issue as well as a search engine issue. The delivery information as a service to scientists is CSIRO IT’s biggest challenge, according to Ms Frost.

CSIRO IT is still determining its customer’s needs. It is putting in place project management practices and a project management office. Its IT governance and financial management are clear priorities for Ms Frost.

CSIRO intends to look closely at strategic sourcing for its corporate applications.

Key intended procurements for this coming year include desktop and data storage. Ms Frost recognises that she has a major challenge in front of her to bring the consolidated IT vision to fruition, given the previous independent nature of the Divisions.

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