New chief to shake up Vic Police IT

Newly appointed Victoria Police commissioner Simon Overland intends to revamp the operating model for the force's troubled IT division, according to budget estimate documents released earlier this month.

Newly appointed Victoria Police commissioner Simon Overland intends to revamp the operating model for the force's troubled IT division, according to budget estimate documents released earlier this month.

This is obviously a priority issue for me. We need to get this right.

Simon Overland, Victoria Police commissioner

Overland told the state estimates committee on 14 May that he had engaged an external consultant, which he did not name, to give him advice on the best model for IT and information management across the organisation.

At the time he expected to receive the report shortly, which would allow him to make decisions on a restructure of the ICT division. Victoria Police has recently said that it is looking for a new executive director for infrastructure to replace the board of management which had been in place after former chief information officer Valda Berzins resigned around the time her department was being investigated for misconduct.

However, this executive would not have full responsibility for all of the force's IT operations, with a role for information management and security likely to be split from the nuts and bolts of running the police's IT, as had been suggested in a report by the commissioner for Law Enforcement Data Security (CLEDS).

That report, which had been completed in April, suggested that a person with overall responsibility for information management and security be appointed within the force, reporting directly to the commissioner.

The commissioner wholly agreed with this recommendation, according to the committee transcripts. "I think one of the key things is we need to separate out the management of IT — that is the software and the hardware — from the process of managing information," he said.

Overland said he was in the process of making senior appointments for three executive director roles who would be responsible for leading a broader corporate services review including restructuring, taking into account the CLEDS recommendation as well as the report he had commissioned from the external consultant.

The CLEDS report had also suggested that the overarching Department of Justice needed to look more closely at the balance between in-house skills and outsourced ICT capability, to minimise its risk.

In the budget estimates, the department admitted that Victoria Police had been struggling with its infrastructure and would look to the government's new shared services agency to give it a hand. "[Victoria Police] is looking to progressively join with other government sector agencies and secure a significant proportion of its IT infrastructure support from the government's CenITex agency," the department said in the estimates documents.

The CLEDS report recommended that the key points of its advice be implemented by 31 October 2009, while the longer term ideas, such as pushing through cultural change within the organisation and moving to a central structure for information management and security, should be implemented by 30 April 2010.

Overland said that he believed he could meet those timeframes. "This is obviously a priority issue for me. We need to get this right, so I would be planning to be moving on implementation from about mid-year and looking to have full implementation within about 12 months," he said at the estimates committee.

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