The Victorian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) reform journey continues on its path with the appointment of Grantly Mailes to its inaugural Chief Technology Advocate (CTA) role.
Mailes, who has more than 15 years experience working in both public and private sector ICT, was the inaugural Chief Information Officer for the Government of South Australia and will be well aware of the issues he will likely encounter in the role.
He will have responsibility for the delivery of the State’s new ICT strategy, which he helped develop as Chair of the Victorian Information and Communications Technology Advisory Committee.
In announcing the role, Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Technology, Gordon Rich-Phillips placed emphasis on the CTA role as providing direction and co-ordination in ICT for the Victorian Government.
In describing his role to Intermedium, Mailes put the emphasis on advocacy. “[The position] is recognition that what the State needs at the moment is to embrace recent innovations in technology, service delivery and our use of ICT, hence the title ‘Advocate’ and not CIO or CTO.”
“Central mandates tend not to work effectively. The role of the CTA will be to advocate policy, improve ICT procurement and form cooperative arrangements across government that are easier to accept than reject”, said Mailes.
Good precedents for cooperative models of the type he envisages across the Victorian Government already exist, according to Mailes.
“We have tended to hide our light under a bushel on this” he said, citing two of the State’s successful shared services arrangements - the provision of payroll services on a fee for service basis to agencies by the Department of Primary Industries Business Services group and by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
This emphasis on shared services is consistent with Victoria’s ICT Strategy, which contains measures to reduce costs by 15 per cent by December 2014 through the reuse and sharing of ICT systems and contracts.
Shifting the Government’s business model away from heavily customised solutions is also on the agenda for Mailes. “Where we can, we’ll change business process to align with commercial packages that are available,” he said.
The role of CTA is in addition to Mailes’ ongoing role as Deputy Secretary, Innovation and Technology at the Department of Business and Innovation.
When the Victorian Whole-of-Government CIO role was abolished in 2007, its functions were absorbed into the Victorian Treasury’s Government Technology Group. However, the need for stronger ICT leadership was identified in Victoria’s ICT Strategy launched in February 2013.
Other needs identified by the Strategy include a review of state procurement, and a transformation of the way in which projects are conducted.
“Mr Mailes will initially focus on delivering better services, reducing waste, encouraging innovation and improving ICT procurement across government” said Rich-Phillips.
These changes to the State’s ICT arrangements have come about in part due to a number of high-profile project failures or time and cost blow-outs, with a total estimated cost of $1.44 billion. These include the now cancelled $470 million HealthSMART project; the over-$1 billion Myki system; Victoria Police’s $60 million Link project, closed in 2011; and the Ultranet project.
According to Mailes, project governance will also form part of his role. Victoria’s ICT Strategy presents plans to increase information sharing between agencies, co-design ICT projects with the private sector and implement a staged delivery to better manage large ICT projects.
Mailes joins the Federal Government’s Glenn Archer, NSW’s Michael Coutts-Trotter, Queensland’s Peter Grant and South Australia’s Andrew Mills in having Whole-of-Government ICT responsibilities.
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