[ad] The service leader for Cloud is now in Australia. Secure, reliable cloud and managed hosting all backed by 24x7x365 Fanatical Support. Create your free account now.
Buy an Seagate Business Storage NAS for your chance to win a holiday
[ad] Purchase a selected Seagate Business Storage NAS to receive a $20 cash-back AND go into the draw to win a $1,000 Flight Centre voucher so you can holiday in the destination of your choice. T&Cs apply.
Great articles on other sites
- Xbox One smashes sales records
- Tech leaders call for speed, ubiquity in NBN rollout
- AIIA urges Hockey to tackle taxes
- IBM accuses Qld govt of trying to ‘rewrite history’
- Newlease undergoes reverse takeover to score ASX listing
- Australia Post loses battle | The Australian
- Start-ups leap at Telstra's accelerator
- Labor won't hand over NBN advice to Turnbull
- Adelaide Uni on hiring blitz for tech transformation
- Human Services to cut 56 IT jobs
How mobile and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy
[ad] How will the adoption of mobile devices and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy? Are you reaching your organisation's customers through these touch points? Click here to download a whitepaper by Fifth Quadrant examining consumer and business attitudes to these new contact channels.
50 things top IT pros need to know
[ad] This 18 page TechRepublic whitepaper explores 10 things you should know to become an epic IT manager, 40 other essential tips to advance your IT career and practical guidance for starting an IT consulting business. Click here to access the whitepaper.
Enterprise IT, Featured, News - Written by Renai LeMay on Thursday, November 22, 2012 13:19 - 3 Comments
Whole of Govt CIO Steward retires
news Australia’s Whole of Government chief information officer Ann Steward this week announced her intention to retire from the public service after seven years leading peak IT strategy agency the Australian Government Information Management Office and long years more in the global public sector generally.
“I would like to advise you all that after seven rewarding years, I have decided to retire as the Australian Government CIO and from the Australian Public Service. This will take effect from the end of this year,” Steward wrote in a post on AGIMO’s blog yesterday. “I have really appreciated the privilege of working with the AGIMO team, my colleagues in other agencies, the other Australian jurisdictions and in a range of overseas governments and agencies. The support I have received has been outstanding and sustained, including during some very demanding times.”
“I particularly note the spirit, good humour, thoughtfulness and professionalism that the staff in AGIMO have applied to their work and the manner in which their interactions that have created the stimulating culture that is central to our whole of government work. I am very proud of our many achievements over the last seven years, supporting the Governments of the day in the delivery of their programs and services, enabled by technology.”
Steward said interactions with industry stakeholders had also been a valued part of her work at AGIMO, and she had been very pleased with the way in which those interactions had become more positive and fruitful through activities such as AGIMO’s blog. “I won’t be losing contact with information technology and, although I haven’t finished yet, I will be looking forward to watching your progress in the future,” Steward wrote.
Steward was appointed to the role in June 2005, during the then-Howard Coalition administration, leaving a role as the general manager of enterprise capability in Centrelink’s business transformation group to do so. Steward also had a prior history at AGIMO; she had acted as the group’s principal e-strategy advisor before 2003, when the executive joined Centrelink. At that stage AGIMO was known as the National Office for the Information Economy. Steward also spent a number of years seconded to the UK Government, where held the post of director of e-Government in the Cabinet Office.
Whilst working in the UK Cabinet Office, Ann completed the Review of Major IT Projects. This Review reported a comprehensive set of recommendations that are having a major impact on the way IT projects are planned, implemented and managed in the UK public sector. See Steward’s full biography online.
A spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Deregulation, which houses AGIMO, confirmed Steward’s plans to depart from the public service at the end of the year. “The Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation is considering staffing arrangements in light of Ms Steward’s departure, which will be announced in due course,” they said.
Ann Steward was appointed to her position as whole of government CIO for the Federal Government at a time of optimism in the industry for that kind of position. Several such appointments were made at similar times across Australia’s state and federal public sectors; in March of the same year, former Centrelink CIO Jane Treadwell took up the role of whole of government CIO in Victoria; and in February New South Wales appointed Paul Edgecumbe to be the state’s first whole of government CIO. Also that year, Queensland appointed a new whole of government chief information officer; promoting Queensland Health CIO Peter Grant to the role.
Fast-forward seven years, however, and it’s safe to say that the appointment of whole of government chief information officers in Australia hasn’t precisely been the roaring success which governments believed it would be back in 2005.
Both Treadwell and Edgecumbe exited their positions long ago; and while both did accomplish solid progress in their roles, it’s also safe to say that the two states still have more than their fair share of problems (see here and here, for example) when it comes to IT service and project delivery. In Queensland, Grant is now back after a stint as Microsoft’s state director, and grappling with issues as large as Queensland Health’s disastrous payroll systems implementation, which continues to be a nightmare for politicians and public servants alike in the state.
In the Federal Government, the situation is quite a bit better. AGIMO has never had the kind of direct oversight and responsibility for major IT project and service delivery reform that whole of government CIO offices in the states have had; confining itself more to areas such as central IT policy, standards-setting and common procurement initiatives with major suppliers such as Microsoft. Federal Government departments such as the ATO, Defence, Customs, Immigration and Human Services (largely, Centrelink) are very independent from AGIMO and the CIOs of those departments only have a very thin dotted line of accountability towards Steward and her team, with most of their accountability being towards their individual departmental secretaries and ministers.
This has meant two things for Steward over her lengthy tenure leading AGIMO. Firstly, it has meant that the CIO largely escaped being linked with Federal Government disasters such as the 2005 Integrated Cargo System debacle at Customs and the Change Program delays at Tax, both of which were IT projects which caused widespread problems in the wider community. And even the angst associated with initiatives such as the Gershon Review of technology use in the federal public sector didn’t really wash back on AGIMO, as it was more seen as stemming from Gershon and how the major departments implemented his recommendations than from AGIMO itself.
However, this role has also meant that that Steward’s role as a change agent in helping to improve IT project and service delivery in Canberra has also been somewhat limited. When I think back upon the past seven years, it’s only a handful of initiatives which come to mind that AGIMO has implemented; issues such as common document standards across government, common procurement contracts around areas like datacentre and with vendors like Microsoft, and a general loosening in the way the public sector deals with areas such as social media and information licensing. IT governance has also been beefed up, but you still don’t quite get the sense that the top-level bureaucrats (the ones who sit above the CIOs) understand IT well.
What I personally would have liked to see from Steward and AGIMO in general was a much more visionary and interventionist approach, the sort of approach which we saw from US Government CIO Vivek Kundra when he was appointed to the role as part of the Obama administration in early 2009. Concepts that Kundra introduced such as his IT dashboard, his cloud-first policy and his TechStat accountability sessions have reverberated around the globe and really enhanced the global understanding of how effective whole of government CIOs can be; even if Kundra did leave for a cushy job with a vendor before the impact of those reforms was really felt.
I understand the limitations on Steward’s role from the start, and there is no doubt that her role was more informed by the more conservative and consultative approach to centralised IT policy taken by administrations in countries such as the UK and Canada, rather than the rather brash American style. However, it’s hard not to feel as though that brash American style is needed a little more in Australia. It would have been ideal if Steward could have experimented with some of that innovative thinking in Canberra and then taken it on the road to some of the state governments, which certainly need as much help as they can get in the area of IT project and service delivery at the moment. If Australia is going to have a whole of government CIO, they should be a visionary who will help lead the country in this area.
Perhaps Steward did work along these lines; it’s not always possible to get a feel for what’s happening within the complex public sector, and AGIMO’s role has always been more behind the scenes than up front and sensationalist. In general, whenever I’ve spoken to people about Steward, they have given me a positive impression of her work and leadership.
In conclusion, from my point of view, we should view Steward’s tenure at AGIMO as broadly a success. The executive was successful in getting quite a few important initiatives across the line, raising the ‘hygiene’ of IT governance within the Federal Government substantially and delivering an improved level of collaboration between previously siloed departments. There haven’t been any obvious screw-ups, and despite the occasional doubts of politicians such as Special Minister of State Gary Gray, there is no doubt that Steward leaves AGIMO a stronger organisation than she found it.
Beyond this, Steward appears to have been a safe pair of hands for the organisation. During her tenure the agency survived several changes of political administration (from Howard to Rudd to Gillard) and several reviews into its role and future. The magnitude of this accomplishment – gradually improving things while keeping the wolf from AGIMO’s door – is made the more impressive when you consider the fate of whole of government CIOs in Australia’s states over that period. Victoria no longer has such an office, and NSW has dramatically revamped its own, while in Queensland one can’t help but feel that Peter Grant has a major job of work ahead of him that few would envy. Let’s hope Australia’s next whole of government CIO — if we get one, that is, Finance hasn’t confirmed that yet — can build on Steward’s legacy and take the office to the next stage.
Image credit: AGIMO
Latest Delimiter 2.0 articles (subscriber content)
|Politicians from Australia’s major parties need to stop issuing ludicrous blanket pardons for the intelligence community’s ongoing misdemeanours and start applying a basic modicum of transparency and accountability to this important national security function.|
|The independent pro-fibre National Broadband Network movement is doing a far better job of promoting Labor’s Fibre to the Premises-based NBN policy than Labor itself. When is Labor going to wake from its slumber and start supporting this scrappy but energetic grassroots network of activists?|
|Ziggy Switkowski's first substantial public appearance since being appointed NBN Co chief executive has starkly demonstrated just how different he is from his predecessor, Mike Quigley, and just how strictly he will adhere to the guidelines which his patron, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has set for him.|
|Australian technology companies have been virtually absent from the the nation’s public stockmarket over the past decade as the stigma of the dot com bust took its toll on investor confidence. But a clutch of new listings planned for the closing months of 2013 shows renewed interest in the sector and that local entrepreneurs are smelling money in the air once again.|
|NBN Co’s Strategic Review process gives the company an unmissable opportunity to re-evaluate the early decision to deploy its FTTP network primarily through Telstra’s underground ducts. The company and its new Coalition masters must now seriously consider deploying more fibre aerially on power poles in an effort to speed up its rollout substantially.|
|That moment which many Australian technologists fervently hoped for but never expected to see has come to pass: Simon Hackett has been appointed to the board of the National Broadband Network Company. But what questions should the Internode founder be asking NBN Co’s executive management team? Here’s five ideas to start with.|
|The rapid replacement of respected NBN Co chief operating officer Ralph Steffens with a Telstra executive who appears less experienced with fibre rollouts but better politically connected represents a key signal that NBN Co’s senior executive hiring process has now become completely politicised and is no longer independent from the Federal Government.|
Enterprise IT, Featured, News - Dec 9, 2013 11:35 - 0 Comments
More In Enterprise IT
- Harbour City Ferries goes Microsoft across the board
- Payroll disaster: Queensland sues IBM
- End of an era: Oracle Australia’s ‘safe hands’ leaves
- Qld launches whole of government IaaS panel
- Defence finally allows staff iPhones, iPads
News, Telecommunications - Dec 9, 2013 17:23 - 28 Comments
More In Telecommunications
- NBN Co still has 1Gbps on way
- Delimiter appeals Turnbull Blue Book censorship
- Final closure: TPG buys AAPT for $450m
- NBN FTTN analysis “devastating” for Coalition
- NBN Co internal FTTN analysis: Turnbull refuses to retract inaccurate claim
Industry, News, Startups - Dec 9, 2013 15:40 - 4 Comments
More In Industry
- The Australian IT sector needs a stronger voice
- Xbox One goes off with a bang … but will the PS4 launch eclipse it?
- It’s not just Freelancer: Aussie tech IPOs are back in general
- Freelancer’s IPO: A billion reasons to care
- Australian retailers online: Late to the party and much to do
Blog, Digital Rights, Gadgets - Dec 9, 2013 11:15 - 18 Comments
More In Digital Rights
- Censored: Appeal for AG’s Blue Book fails
- Senate to force TPP publication
- Global privacy group files formal ASD complaint
- Labor open to surveillance discussion
- Snowden an “American traitor”, says Australia’s Attorney-General