Ann Steward has been the Australian Government chief information officer since July 2005. Steward spoke to CIO Australia about her role at the Australian Government Information Office (AGIMO) and the work she is doing on the Australia.gov.au website, as well Cloud opportunities in government.
What does an average day involve for you as CIO?
I’m not sure I’ll categorise it as average. There could be meetings and meetings are a fact of life for many of us. It would be as diverse as looking at what our four capital investment plans might be. [It would be] looking at what we’re doing in our activities on skills initiatives, particularly for new graduate programs that we are running with agencies on ICT grads.
It would be engaging with other departments and agencies at peer level meetings on issues that we work on such as our cyber security considerations and our whitepaper that’s lead by colleagues in Prime Minister and Cabinet. It would also be working with other colleagues within my own department on initiatives or proposals coming forward from agencies for budget funding where they have large ICT elements.
It could be as diverse as working with colleagues in NICTA, looking at innovative approaches to the use of technology for various government services. It could be hooking up with colleagues in the OECD on work that we’re doing under an e-government leaders program, working with OECD participants, sharing information, looking at key indicators for progress on e-government.
It could also include meeting our new intake of graduates into my work environment to support their career development and ensuring that they’re well settled on what it is that we’re doing in both our policy work and also in our interactions with industry, government and agencies.
It could be meeting with colleagues from our international cohort who also are CIO leaders in their own jurisdictions. It could even involve a telepresence hook up with all the states and territory governments in Australia, including New Zealand, to share information, nut out some of the issues that we are all collectively working on in IT, and being able to get both our national approaches in order and then our Trans-Tasman one.
To round it off, it might even be an 11pm hook up with a video conference for my CIO peers in the UK, Canada, US and New Zealand. So, that’s a bit of spread of what a day might look like.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role as CIO?
The biggest issue I think for any CIO is the speed of technology change; the diversity and opportunity that it brings, particularly with deep penetration of mobile devices.
The continuing demands for us is to be able to have a more simplified and integrated services delivery and to have a much more personalised interaction with our citizens and business, and really look at the ways in which we can make access to government services as simple to use as possible. So, that’s one very large component of it.
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