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NSW Seeks New Chief Information Officer

by Staff Writers •
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Three months after the surprise departure of Paul Edgecumbe as NSW Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO), the Government is seeking his replacement. The recruitment follows closely after the appointment of Mr John Lee as Director General of the Department of Commerce was announced on 8 August, so clearly the Government is wasting no further time in resolving who will be the GCIO.

The role is advertised with a salary package between $214,351 and $247,300, and will be offered as a performance based contract with a duration of up to 5 years. The responsibilities are described as 'providing high level advice to the Minister, Cabinet and Senior Executives in Government on matters relating to strategic ICT framework to ensure best value for money from ICT investment and to lead improvements in service delivery'.

The selection criteria require applicants to have:

  • Proven record of effective financial management of large budgets and experience in significantly increasing return on investment;
  • Outstanding project management experience across a large stakeholder base and strong credibility as an IT leader and practitioner;
  • Exceptional influencing ability and people management skills with an IT policy development background;
  • Exceptional oral/written communication and interpersonal skills, including superior negotiation, presentation and group dynamic facilitation skills; and
  • Technical knowledge and relevant tertiary qualifications or equivalent experience.

Applicants have up until 7 September to lodge their CV. The Iemma government has not yet appointed a senior bureaucrat who is not already well known to its Ministers, so it will be interesting to see if they break with their recent pattern and appoint an outsider. (The strong Transport/ Roads background of Roozendaal and Lee was noted in a previous article in the Medium.)

As the Medium noted in its article of 21 May, the role of GCIO is one of the toughest in government. The attrition rate of people in these roles across Australian jurisdictions has been significant. The ability to meet all of these criteria will call for an exceptionally skilled and experienced CIO.

A number of the criteria bear out points made in our May article, particularly the need to have 'exceptional influencing ability and people management skills'. The GCIO is unlikely to have authority over agency activities or any direct control over funding. The new GCIO will therefore find his or her self in the same matrix management arrangement as Edgecumbe, and will require strong - probably extraordinary - interpersonal skills, and a capability to influence and persuade, because they have very few powers to direct.

Edgecumbe’s major success in his two years as NSW CIO was to see the ‘People First’ ICT Strategic Plan launched last July. Getting political support for the Plan would have been no mean feat. Now with the passage of a year, it will be a major challenge to get the momentum going again with a new Minister, a new DG and a new GCIO. 'Superior negotiation, presentation and group dynamic facilitation skills' will certainly be required in working with the CIOs of NSW government agencies. Most agency CIOs are members of the NSW Government CIO Executive Council, but first and foremost, they have key accountabilities and reporting lines within their agencies. Their first loyalty will inevitably be to the needs of their agency.

'Outstanding project management experience' will also be required to steer the scale of project work contemplated under the ICT Strategic Plan. There have been no public updates on the status of the Plan since its launch by Edgecumbe in July 2006, but coordination and management of the mooted 100 or more projects must be a massive job. It is widely suspected that nothing like this volume of projects will now go forward.

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  • NSW
  • Policy
  • ICT framework
  • Iemma Government
  • John Lee
  • Paul Edgecumbe