More details are now available about the way in which the Australian Government Information Office (AGIMO’s) functions have been accommodated within the broader structure of the Department of Finance. The fate of the Office had been uncertain since the departure of the Australian Government Chief Information Officer (AGCIO) Glenn Archer in early February 2014.
After the inaugural AGCIO, Ann Steward retired in late 2012, the AGCIO lost its status as a Deputy Secretary level role and its responsibilities were split between Steward’s two AGIMO deputies. Glenn Archer assumed an AGCIO role with a reduced span of responsibility, 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.
Intermedium suggested that the role of AGCIO and the existence of AGIMO could be under question following the National Commission of Audit’s (NCoA’s) recommendation for the creation of a Chief Digital Officer role within the Communications portfolio and believes it may still be possible for some of the AGCIO/ AGIMO functions to end up within Communications if a Chief Digital Officer role is created.
The announcement that the AGCIO role had been abolished was first made by Chris Dale, Finance’s Assistant Secretary for Government Network Services at the CeBIT conference on 7 May 2014.
He told CeBIT 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.”
Deininger’s Division includes an Efficiency Improvement Branch (headed by Simone Pensko) that includes non-ICT functions with the two other Branches in the Division retaining ‘AGIMO’ in their title, (albeit in brackets).
Mark Vickers heads up the Digital Government Strategy (AGIMO) Branch while Lesley Seebeck heads up the Digital Government Investment and Assurance (AGIMO) Branch.
However, it is understood that Ms Seebeck will shortly assume the role of Chief Information Officer at the Bureau of Meteorology, leaving a vacancy to be filled in the Branch, which given the state of flux re the NCoA recommendations, may not occur on a permanent basis for some time.
At the AIIA Canberra Manager’s Forum on 22 May, John Sheridan observed that while Ms Deininger did not have an ICT background, she was regarded as an expert in efficiency, and the nature of ICT as an enabler of efficiency made the move of the ICT policy functions into her Division a good fit. The move should be viewed as one of “continuity, rather than change”, Sheridan told the Forum.
Sheridan also told the Forum, as had Dale (who reports to Sheridan within the Technology and Procurement Division) previously at CeBIT, that his roles within Finance remained unchanged.
“The role of John Sheridan as Australian Government Chief Technology Officer in charge of the Technology and Procurement Division continues to provide whole of government ICT services and infrastructure, and he retains the role of Australian Government Procurement Coordinator responsible for all whole of government procurement advice, services and the Commonwealth Procurement Rules”, said Dale.
Dale also told CeBIT that responsibility for implementing the Coalition’s pre-election ICT commitments outlined in its eGovernment Policy will be shared between Finance and the Department of Communications.
"Regarding the pre-election commitment, Finance is planning a series of information sessions and both Finance and Communications have been reaching out to various government agencies and departments to gather new data, to collaborate on implementation and to ensure the best possible outcomes”, Dale said.
The decision to split the functions of AGIMO followed recommendations from the Reinecke review in 2010 and a review of AGIMO in 2011 by Helen Williams. At the time Finance stated that “the AGCIO looks after whole of government ICT policy while the AGCTO looks after whole of government ICT services and procurement.”