IT staff flee NSW gaol shake-up

The IT head of New South Wales gaols has played hard ball with his department, leading to an exodus of employees: only five of his original 65 staff remain following a three-year internal operations shake-up.

The IT head of New South Wales gaols has played hard ball with his department, leading to an exodus of employees: only five of his original 65 staff remain following a three-year internal operations shake-up.

Gaol

(Gaol interior image, by State Records NSW, CC2.0)

NSW Corrective Services chief information officer Wayne Ruckley, who can fix a tractor but not a projector, was brought in from the business operations of the department to overhaul its inefficient IT shop.

"Individual staff were doing things they liked, the way they liked," Ruckley said. "We [were] at [a] cross roads — if we didn't turn this ship around, we'd sink."

Staff, some who have held the same position for more than a decade, were required to change their projects and responsibilities in an overhaul Ruckley described as "beyond the sensitivities of any individual".

Only a handful of those staff who left the organisation took transfers to other departments, the rest resigned.

Ruckley was also under pressure following a directive that he re-apply for his position.

From the day Ruckley took the job with a mission to "just f***ing fix IT", he applied his knowledge of people management and business efficiency from other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing to streamline the department's procurement and operations and replace the archaic technologies used in the aging gaols and department facilities.

The IT department has been lauded for its efforts and now manages all assets for the department's 170 locations, from cameras, to tables and doors.

The overhaul is part of the $45 million, four-year REAL (Re-mediation Enhancement and Architectural Lifecycle) program to remove disparate system silos and slash the number of vendors the department deals with, along with unnecessary spending.

"I hate spending taxpayers' money — technology doesn't always solve technology problems," he said. "I am geared by the notion that [vendors] will do as little as they can get any with."

What Ruckley once dubbed a reactive organisation bent on personal convenience and which hadn't "had a cogent plan in more than a decade" is now one of the department's most efficient groups. The group now operates in line with the IT Information Library (ITIL) service platform.

"The use of technology in a correctional environment probably started about 15 to 20 years ago. At that point it was very optional. It's grown to the point now where technology is a pivotal and mainstay point of a contemporary correctional environment," Ruckley said.

Ruckley spoke at this week's Gartner Symposium ITxpo in Sydney. The Symposium closed yesterday.

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