It seems any future Government CIO in Queensland may have powers that are the envy of GCIOs in every other jurisdiction in Australia – the power to implement their strategic objectives.
Speaking at an ICT industry event last month, Premier Anna Bligh announced the Queensland Government is re-thinking the position of Queensland GCIO – its authority, roles and responsibilities.
Queensland is without a permanent GCIO following the departure in December last year of Peter Grant who resigned to take up a position as head of Microsoft’s team in Queensland. Allan Chapman assumed the position in January on temporary transfer.
A spokesman for the Department of Public Works (location of the GCIO position) advises that the Government is currently completing a review of the GCIO role. No date has been set for finalisation of the review process, and there will be no action to recruit a new GCIO until the process has concluded.
However it seems this review is likely to recommend increased powers for the new GCIO. One of the changes under consideration is making the GCIO mandatory across Government.
A recent media article quoted Information and Communications Technology Minister Robert Schwarten backing the comments made by the Premier about the need for an overhaul of the GCIO role.
"While I am very happy with the performance of the current QGCIO, I believe the role needs strengthening from a whole of government perspective to ensure agency compliance. Mandating, as it exists in some of our other business units, will be considered."
Giving the GCIO mandatory powers would enhance a role of that is one of the toughest in government, judging by the number of people who have come and gone from these roles at both federal and state levels in recent years.
GCIO roles typically have responsibility to see certain programs or activities completed, but no delegated authority over agency activities and no direct control over funding. GCIOs find themselves in a matrix management arrangement and they require strong, probably extraordinary interpersonal skills and a capability to influence and persuade, because they typically have very few powers to direct.
A new Queensland GCIO with the power to require agencies to implement whole-of-government ICT strategies would be in a unique position in the Australian government sector. Other jurisdictions will watch developments in Queensland with interest.