Australian government elevates CIO role

The government of the most populous state in Australia has elevated the role of the CIO, reducing the number of reporting lines to Cabinet.

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The government of the most populous state in Australia has elevated the role of the CIO, reducing the number of reporting lines to Cabinet.

No longer wallowing in procurement, the role, for New South Wales, boasts cabinet-level reporting between finance and IT.

The NSW government CIO is responsible for developing government-wide ICT strategies in collaboration with other state agencies.

Newly crowned CIO Emmanuel Rodriguez will report directly to NSW Department of Commerce director general John Lee, who will brief the finance minister.

The previous executive structure placed the CIO in the procurement section of Commerce, hindered by five levels of reporting before reaching Cabinet.

A Department of Commerce spokesman said the move is in line with the state's massive People First IT restructure project.

"Originally the CIO reported to the deputy director general of NSW Procurement. Now the CIO reports to the director general of the NSW Department of Commerce and provides briefings to the minister on major issues," he said.

"The director general reports directly to the minister who is regularly briefed on People First and other ICT developments."

The previous structure copped heavy criticism from industry with analysts arguing the CIO position did not carry enough influence in government.

Gartner senior analyst John Kost, who was once a CIO for Michigan in the US, said CIOs should be elevated even higher, with direct reporting to the finance minister.

"A CIO position should be in treasury and finance, under one roof, which will make IT much more efficient," Kost said.

"With money comes clout, so if a CIO is in a level where there is no command and control they will have very little clout.

"Everyone in the bureaucracy questions the relevance of a new position which is why it's so important that the CIO has complete oversight and control over IT spend."

Kost said the Victorian and South Australian GCIO models are effective because the CIO reports to Treasury. However both positions are currently vacant. He said Cabinet must have governance of the four-year People First project if NSW wants to squeeze the most out of it and get value for money.

"There is a huge disconnect in the People First program because no one really owns it," Kost said. "If it is pushed closer to the cabinet, the programme will be more effective, regardless of where the CIO is."

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