CIOs are taking on more senior roles in government agencies. Their focus is moving from being simple internal service providers, to becoming key members of a senior management team carrying collective responsibility for corporate outcomes.
A common theme flowed through a number of presentations at the recent GovTech Summit in Canberra (19-20 July). Speakers noted that it is no longer sufficient to draw hard boundaries between business and technology issues, nor can projects be claimed a success if they are only judged on simple measures of time and budget. It can be like claiming that “the operation was a success but the patient died”.
At its heart, the problem lies with some traditional approaches to ICT governance. Sometimes too much focus was placed on project management and not enough on investment management.
Difficult problems do not always require difficult solutions. Sometimes a flexible, outcomes-based approach to business requirements will yield more imaginative technical solutions. These can reduce project cost and risk, while still delivering required outcomes.
There are now some clear success stories emerging across major government agencies.
- Centrelink’s CIO and Deputy CEO, John Wadeson outlined Centrelink’s clear success in delivering its Technology Refresh Project against traditional performance indicators such as cost and time. However he noted that the real achievement was the project’s demonstrated contribution to enabling a more flexible and innovative agency.
- In outlining ATO’s ongoing successes in delivering its $700million Change Program, Second Commissioner Greg Farr reflected “As with all major IT deployments, we have had to deal with both systems and cultural issues. In particular, the move to enterprise-wide processes was probably the most challenging aspect and often it was easier to blame technology for any deficiencies. The reality was that human factors were at play and the new enterprise-wide processes had revealed process and accountability gaps.”
Immigration’s CIO and Deputy Secretary Bob Correl, described the circumstances that lead the Government to initiate significant changes in the Department. Immigration’s Systems for People program is a major change strategy for the entire Department. Systems are being delivered through a series of Portals. Delivery of each Portal is scheduled to provide just in time, the required applications and infrastructure necessary to support wider changes to the Department’s administration.