The Queensland government intends to beef up the powers of its state chief information officer role, to ensure the candidate has enough power to effectively deal with individual departments and agencies.
Queensland ICT minister Robert Schwarten
(Credit: Queensland government)
The state has been without a permanent CIO since incumbent Peter Grant resigned in December last year to lead Microsoft's Qld operations. Government staffer Alan Chapman, who worked closely with Grant, has been filling his shoes in an acting capacity since that time.
However, late last week, Information and Communications Technology Minister Robert Schwarten backed recent comments by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh that the CIO position needed an overhaul.
"The premier made this call on my recommendation," Schwarten told ZDNet.com.au. "While I am very happy with the performance of the current QGCIO, I believe the role needs strengthening from a whole of government perspective to ensure agency compliance."
"Mandating, as it exists in some of our other business units, will be considered."
Schwarten said given the amount of activity in the government's ICT area, it was "logical and necessary" that the position evolve accordingly. The state spends close to AU$1 billion on ICT, of which about 50 per cent relates to core infrastructure technologies and operations, with the balance split roughly between operations related to applications and annual ICT projects.
The state appeared to be in no rush to appoint a permanent successor for Grant, with the minister confirming that the hiring process had not yet commenced.
Queensland is currently undertaking a transformation program, which started in late 2006 after a landmark report recommended state government reforms the way it uses technology. The plans, which include the consolidation of the state's infrastructure, network and data centres, are expected to save taxpayers at least AU$135 million a year.
Schwarten said the state had established the foundation infrastructure needed for consolidation, and implemented whole-of-government email, identity management and directory services.
"Further projects are underway to rationalise the government's data centres across south-east Queensland, and to position [government-owned IT services firm] CITEC as provider of data centre, network and infrastructure services to government," the minister added.
The government is also grappling with a security breach after a hacker recently penetrated its electronic tendering systems.
Schwarten said the Department of Public Works had engaged an external consultant to investigate the intrusion, although he did not say what firm was involved. In the meantime, Queensland is piggy-backing on the New South Wales' system.
"Future e-procurement options will be considered once that investigation is complete," Schwarten said.