Exclusive: Queensland state CIO opens up

newsmaker In October 2006, Queensland IT Minister Robert Schwarten announced sweeping reforms to the framework under which the state government's internal IT systems were developed and governed. The reforms came in response to recommendations from a wide-ranging Service Delivery and Productivity Commission report on ICT governance in the state, and included the creation of state chief information and technology officer roles.

newsmaker In October 2006, Queensland IT Minister Robert Schwarten announced sweeping reforms to the framework under which the state government's internal IT systems were developed and governed.

The reforms came in response to recommendations from a wide-ranging Service Delivery and Productivity Commission report on ICT governance in the state, and included the creation of state chief information and technology officer roles.

Queensland also expects to save taxpayers at least AU$135 million from the changes, through initiatives such as the consolidation of the state's infrastructure, network and data centres.

While Queensland has not yet appointed executives permanently to the new positions, Peter Grant and Bob Gurnett are currently respectively holding down the fort in an interim capacity.

In a statement issued by Grant's office, the pair tell ZDNet Australia they're getting on with the job.

Q: How will your (Peter Grant's) role and the role of Queensland CTO Bob Gurnett change under the new arrangements, compared with the way you worked previously (i.e. I understand you previously had a similar role in the state govt)?

Peter Grant: Working on the Business and Information layers of the Government Enterprise Architecture to ensure we make the right business, application and technology decisions. Have established a Successful Delivery Directorate to ensure everyone has the right tools to get the job done. We are implementing a benefits management methodology to ensure that agencies deliver business benefits when they make technology investments. We're also working on a portfolio management methodology and we're rolling out an ICT strategic planning methodology for government agencies.

Bob Gurnett

Bob Gurnett: A significant change will be moving from working on architecture and design issues for individual clients to providing technology policy advice across Government and the ICT architecture for whole-of-Government solutions. The focus will move to providing consolidated ICT services and infrastructure which meet agencies business needs but also provide solutions that get the best outcomes across government.

Q: The CIO and CTO appointments were announced as "interim" -- when are the appointments due to be finalised?

Permanent appointments are expected to be made within the next few months. [This response is from Tony Waters, deputy director-general, Services within the Queensland Department of Public Works, which houses the state CIO's office]

Q: On 23 October last year, Minister Robert Schwarten said the Queensland Government would for the first time have a whole-of-Government framework to guide the development of its information systems. What steps have been taken towards this goal, and what steps will be taken?

The recommendations in the SDPC Report on ICT Governance create the basis for this framework to be developed. A key piece of work in developing such a framework is the Service Delivery Vision due to be presented to Cabinet later this year. The Service Delivery Vision, being developed by the Office of the Public Service Commissioner, will articulate the government's future direction for service delivery over the next two decades.

The establishment of the Queensland Government Chief Information Office (QGCIO) and the Queensland Government Chief Technical Office (QGCTO) are also integral to putting the framework in place.

The QGCIO is helping agencies to improve their ICT investment decision-making through implementation of the Government Enterprise Architecture and by providing strategic planning tools and methodologies. It's also assisting agencies to improve implementation outcomes so that when they embark on major ICT initiatives, they can be confident of positive outcomes.

The QGCIO is also working closely with the ICT industry and providing informed advice to government in relation to the industry.

Another of the QGCIO's roles is to identify and respond to the government's future ICT needs. Initiatives such as the ICT Career-Graduate Development Program, a mobility program across government and development of a skills strategy are some of the ways this is being done.

The QGCTO is putting in place a whole-of-government approach to dealing with technology issues, through management of the Technology and Application layers of the Government Enterprise Architecture. The high-level architecture for consolidated ICT infrastructure is currently in development.

Q: What progress has been made towards the ICT innovation centre to be established within CITEC to enable agencies and suppliers to work together?

Initial business planning for the Innovation Centre has been done. We are now considering options for the most effective operating model to establish the centre.

Q: What steps have been taken towards the consolidation of the state's infrastructure, network and data centres?

The first step in the consolidation process is the development of two business cases that will be presented to the government's Cabinet Budget Review Committee (CBRC). Preparation of both business cases are currently underway.

It is anticipated that the implementation of technology consolidation will be conducted over a number of years

Queensland state CIO Peter Grant

The Technology Consolidation Business Case will identify the best way to realise the benefits of consolidating technology functions across government pertaining to data centres, networks and infrastructure. The business case will determine the upfront investment needed to do this and will also identify the non-financial and financial benefits.

It is anticipated that the implementation of technology consolidation will be conducted over a number of years. Each "wave" of consolidation may consist of only a few agencies or services to ensure that service delivery can continue with minimised interruptions.

The second business case deals with identity, directory and e-mail services consolidation. Under this project the following ancillary services will be consolidated:

  • Identity and directory services
  • ICT security services including whole-of-government authentication, access control, auditing and security certificates
  • E-mail services including secure e-mail messaging, filtering, scheduling and shared calendars.

This phase includes a baseline of agencies' current spend for provision of relevant services, gathering of business requirements, determination of technical options, and development of technical standards and architectural positions for Government Enterprise Architecture approval.

These two business cases form part of six programs of work that are in progress to implement the ICT Governance Initiative. Within the programs there are 20 discrete projects underway.

Q: Will Queensland examine the need for a state CIO executive council composed of senior IT decision makers from govt agencies, as NSW has established?

Queensland has a Strategic Information and ICT Council (SI&ICT) which is made up of all CIOs and CTOs across Queensland Government. An executive committee of this council provides advice to the QGCIO who subsequently makes recommendations to the Strategic Information and ICT CEO Committee. This committee is made up of 10 CEO's from across government.

The SI&ICT Council has three operational sub-committees, some of which also have working groups attached to them. In addition, there is a Professional Officers Forum for all ICT professionals in the Queensland Government. This forum also provides input to the SI&ICT Council.

Q: What other matters will take priority for the new state CIO and CTO when they are appointed?

For the CTO, the focus will be on progressing a multi-year technology consolidation agenda.

For the CIO, as mentioned above, the main points of focus will be improving investment decisions by agencies, improving implementation outcomes, improving industry/government relations and identifying and responding to future needs. We can't look at these points separately-they need to be worked on simultaneously to achieve the best outcomes from technology investments.

Q: How are the state's reform intentions expected to impact CITEC?

As recommended in the SDPC Report on ICT Governance, CITEC is to become the ICT infrastructure provider to the Queensland Government and as such will be the government's source of technology expertise, and will actively manage whole-of-government requirements for data centres, networks, infrastructure and essential ancillary services such as e-mail and authentication.

This means that CITEC will progressively wind back its commercial business operations and focus on providing services to Queensland Government agencies. In the meantime, CITEC has given an undertaking that all current commercial contracts will be honoured but new commercial clients will not be sought.

Consultants are expected to be appointed in the next few weeks to undertake the first phase of developing an appropriate business model for CITEC that will recognise its strengthened focus on government business.

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