Public sector CIOs are being challenged by one of the sector’s greatest operational reforms. The Victorian Government will face significantly greater and continuing challenges unless there is some consistency in CIO roles in departments and agencies (D&As) and a robust governance framework to manage CenITex, the Government Services Division (GSD) and D&As’ expectations.
The Victorian Government should focus on unlocking the value of current ICT investment by using an independent entity sponsored by the secretaries’ or the deputy secretaries’ leadership groups to monitor key performance areas such as information management and security, and to ensure effective and continuous improvement of governance of and alignment between the three stakeholder groups — GSD, CenITex and D&As.
Too often, there is enthusiasm for increasing centralisation of information management and technology without transforming management of the core business
Let us look at the background, challenges and opportunities that have led me to this conclusion.
The GSD, whose role is to provide strategic direction, policy, strategy and architecture standards at the WoVG level, historically has struggled with to gain or maintain credibility with the D&As. It has not dealt effectively with CenITex’s sticking points: Asset ownership and management, Government CIO 2.0 model depreciation rules, ICT budgeting processes, and defining the departmental CIO model.
The GSD needs to lead transformational change to pursue a centralised agenda more aggressively, because investment decisions are important and need to be monitored and managed properly. Too often, there is enthusiasm for increasing centralisation of information management and technology without transforming management of the core business, leading to inconsistencies.
E-government is dead, but it provided a platform for Gov 2.0, a citizen-driven, employee-centric, evolving model that will manage transformation relatively well. It is information management — rather than technology — focused, driven by information assurance that enables speedy and secure access to information. This leads to the desired focus for the CIO function, which should be to build necessary organisational capability.
Practical strategies for an effective government CIO construct
CenITex is the first model of its kind in Australia, a model in which pockets of shared services were amalgamated into a centralised shared services provider with an independent board reporting to the minister for finance, and supported by a WoVG think tank, the GSD. An improved model would entail CenITex and the GSD reporting to the minister with an information technology portfolio via an independent board, or the GSD continuing to report to minister for finance.
There is an opportunity for CenITex to catalyse change for long-term prosperity and deliver true business value. It is a good model, but needs significant refinement, including customising some servicing of individual requirements to complement its common services delivery model, instead of the current tendency to take a one-size-fits-all approach — a dangerous practice.
The Victorian Government has a real challenge to ensure that CenITex delivers its customers’ expectations realistically and consistently. At WoVG level there is a need to avoid quick fixes for the long-standing CIO organisational structural problems that impede government operations.
Next: Changing IT management to deliver value for money services
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