After more than seven years and the delivery of countless reforms, the Australian Government Chief Information Officer (AGCIO) Ann Steward has announced that she will retire before the end of the year.
She has timed her departure with both strategy and foresight, at a critical juncture between two visions for the future of Federal Government ICT.
The implementation of the recommendations of the 2008 Gershon Review – which acted as a de facto ICT strategy for a number of years – was largely wrapped up at the end of 2011. In October 2012, the Department of Finance and Deregulation released the Federal Government’s first cohesive whole-of-government ICT plan, which will take it out to 2015.
It is now up to Finance Secretary David Tune to decide how to proceed with the recruitment of a permanent successor for Steward, and whether, with only six weeks to go until her retirement becomes effective, he needs to appoint an Acting GCIO in the interim.
A spokesperson for the Department said that these announcements would be made “in due course”.
What is certain, however, is that whoever takes on the role will also adopt a unique set of challenges. They will need to find a way to fulfil the outcomes of the Australian Public Service ICT strategy, while at the same time expanding a savings program already started by AGIMO, with the cooperation of agencies who already feel squeezed for every dollar due to increasing budgetary pressure.
Tributes shared over Twitter
When the news of Steward’s retirement broke on 21 November, colleagues and friends alike turned to Twitter to share their admiration for her service as GCIO.
“Ann Steward retires at the top of her game. All the best Ann in whatever you choose to do,” wrote Federal Government ICT Supplier Advocate Don Easter (@doneas).
Gartner’s Andrea Di Maio (@AndreaDiMaio) described her as “A Great Government CIO”.
Husband Tim Conway (@conwaytb) simply responded with “Yay!!”.
“@conwaytb Our loss and your gain, Tim. We’ll miss her,” replied First Assistant Secretary at the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) John Sheridan (@sherro58).
History of the role
Steward’s tenure as AGCIO spans nearly the full lifetime of the office she leads, AGIMO.
AGIMO was born out of the former National Office of the Information Economy (NOIE) in April 2005, with John Grant then at the helm as Acting AGCIO.
Steward permanently took on the role just over a year later, in June 2005.
Intermedium has identified $6.25 billion worth of ICT contracts published by the Federal Government with a starting date within the 2011-12 financial year, including a number of Defence military arrangements that that are not included in the Government’s own count.
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