Queensland's ICT Minister is so new to the job that he still reads the name of his portfolio - Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts - off a piece of paper.
But just 48 hours into the role, Ian Walker has assured industry members attending today's Brisbane AIIA luncheon that he is a workhorse, and will be across his complex and diverse ministry before they know it.
"Although I'm not an ICT guru by any stretch of the imagination, one of the things that my legal career has given me is the ability to get a brief and to get on top of it quickly, and then to move on and do something about it," he said.
And after health issues, scandals and the eventual resignation of previous ICT Minister Ros Bates, the Newman Government will not want to let any more roadblocks get in the way of its ICT agenda.
It does not have any time to waste either, with Walker today revealing that his Department would lead the development of a "comprehensive, practical plan for Government ICT" which is due to be completed by the end of June.
He also revealed that an Invitation To Offer (ITO) for the whole-of-Queensland-Government ICT Services panel is due to go to market on 15 March, and will proceed in several stages from there.
At some point, Walker and his team will also make time to reform Queensland ICT Governance arrangements, develop a strategy for procuring ICT as-a-service (with particular attention given to email), and make a decision on the future of the operations of CITEC and Queensland Shared Services, which Peter Costello's interim Commission of Audit report has already suggested could be sold off to the private sector. Costello's final report is expected at the end of March.
While it is unlikely that Walker is already through all 1,000 pages of the Queensland Government ICT Audit, it is increasingly clear that ageing IT is one of the first things that an ICT roadmap will need to address.
"This was brought home very strongly to me when I walked into my office, decided to do my first teleconference by speaker-phone, and found that speaker-phone didn't work. According to advice I got from office staff the handset was 22 years old," he quipped.
He went on to explain that the average age of applications in the Queensland Government is 10 years, and that 90 per cent will need to be replaced within the next five years. More than 60 per cent of the Government's ICT workforce, he added, was focused on day-to-day operational activities supporting these custom-built, fragmented and duplicated systems.
Walker and his team will no doubt be keeping a close eye on how their NSW counterparts will address these same issues. The NSW Department of Finance and Services (DFS) has singled out five cloud-projects that it will be looking at to inform its own state-wide cloud roadmap.
In fact, Queensland GCIO Peter Grant said that he was in regular contact with his NSW equivalent (and DFS Director-General) Michael Coutts-Trotter and chair of the Victorian ICT Advisory Committee Grantly Mailes, opening up the possibility of east coast ICT coordination into the future.
Industry will also play a role, added Walker, continuing a pattern of private sector consultation that has already played a large role in the ICT activities of the other east coast Coalition Governments.
"The task of transforming government ICT is huge," said the Minister. "While we take steps to change the way that ICT operates, I envisage that many of you in this room will continue essential work with us."
"As we move away from the owner operator model of ICT, we will need to take a new approach to sourcing ICT solutions, and we encourage your input, your ideas and your participation," he said.
For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.