Of the 190 appointments to the APS 200 Group, announced on 11 June as part of the Federal Government’s response to the Moran Report, only four have specific Chief Information Officer (CIO) responsibilities.
While the selection criteria for the Senior Executive Service (SES) does not focus on professional skill sets, given the major underpinning that ICT now provides many facets of public administration, it is apparent that ICT expertise is substantially under-represented in this key new leadership group.
The CIOs – Bob Correll (Department of Immigration and Citizenship), Greg Farr (Department of Defence), John Wadeson (Human Services Portfolio) and Ann Steward (Department of Finance and Deregulation) – are included in the group because they are all at Deputy Secretary or equivalent level, the classification at which the APS 200 cuts out.
A number of the individuals in the APS 200 have had extensive ICT experience in prior roles, including at least two who are ex-First Assistant Secretary level CIOs.
Others have picked up ICT experience and understanding through involvement in major business system projects. At least 8 of the 10 ATO or ex-ATO officers included in the group have had major involvement in large ICT based projects. Furthermore, of the individuals from the Human Services Portfolio agencies at least 4 have similar deep ICT project experience.
When Correll and Steward are added to these 12 (which include Wadeson (Human Services) and Farr (ex ATO)) it appears that approximately 14 officers, or 7.3 per cent of the group could bring an in depth ICT perspective to the leadership group.
A central plank of the Moran Report’s recommendations is better use of information technology within government client service provision. On March 30 2010, The Australian published an opinion article by Ann Sherry, a member of the APS reforms advisory committee, in which she argued that Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in its use of government ICT and that “too few government agencies are using IT to connect their operations and to tailor their services to people’s needs”.
“Critically, the (APS Reform) blueprint argues that government uses IT not only to put citizens at the heart of service delivery but to give them a hand in service design” she said.
Evidently, there is a key role for ICT in the reform agenda. The under-representation of ICT expertise in the leadership group is therefore a challenge the 14 will have to rise to in ensuring that the importance of ICT in government service delivery is adequately understood across the APS 200.