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NSW appoints first ever whole-of-Transport CIO

by Paris Cowan •
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Transport NSW, the newly amalgamated state super department, appointed its first whole-of-group Chief Information Officer (CIO), John Thomas in September 2010. 

The whole of government responsibilities associated with a role at this level, have followed this appointment, including membership of the NSW Government CIO Council Executive. Thomas has replaced former agency-level CIOs Joe Abraham from the RTA and Roland Oderbolz from RailCorp, who previously represented the Transport super department on the Council.

The scope of Thomas’ role is significant.  It now oversees the ICT direction of Transport NSW and the large, ICT intensive operations of RailCorp, the State Transit Authority (STA) and the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA).

Thomas previously held the position of Customer Service and Infrastructure Operations Manager within Transport NSW’s predecessor body, NSW Transport and Infrastructure, from 2006 to 2010. Prior to this he worked as CIO at the private sector firm, AM Corporation, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Thomas will immediately take charge of overseeing the move of approximately 150 IT staff to the Transport NSW Transport Shared Services (TSS) division, as part of a statewide transfer of supply arrangements to six shared services clusters.

A spokesperson for Transport NSW has also told Intermedium that Thomas will be, “providing direction and coordination for the development and maintenance of a portfolio-wide ICT strategy and the enhancement of systems”.

This ICT Strategy is likely to include the adoption of a common Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform across the whole portfolio.  Transport NSW has indicated that it has commissioned a third party body to assess the most appropriate options for the platform, taking into consideration price and the specific needs of all of the operational entities.

While no final decision has been made, some of the smaller transport agencies within the super department have started transferring their payroll functions to the RTA’s SAP system.

Thomas will also have to contend with a series of transport IT projects that are struggling through some serious implementation difficulties.

The NSW Auditor General Peter Achterstraat yesterday (2 December 2010) issued his annual Financial Audit of the State’s transport agencies.

He commented that, “IT system implementation issues in transport agencies are a concern”.

The report has advised that the RTA, “strengthen its project management techniques,” when it comes to the upgrade of its The Driver and Vehicle System (DRIVES).  It shows that the upgrade of the system, which tracks 7 million vehicle registrations and 2 million driver’s licences, has failed to meet implementation milestones, and has cost $32 million, making it more than three times over budget.

The Auditor-General has also recommended that RailCorp, “continue to resolve the underlying issues associated with its new procurement system”.

In 2009, the rail authority began implementing a $35.1 million system designed to standardise and improve the security of its procurement processes. The system went live in June this year, despite several identified defects, and in the following five months on-time payment performance has deteriorated by 12 percent.

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  • NSW
  • IT Services
  • Transport
  • chief information officer (CIO)
  • ERP
  • Joe Abraham
  • John Thomas
  • NSW Auditor-General
  • RailCorp
  • Roland Olderbolz
  • Shared Services
  • Transport NSW