Bedding down the disastrous rollout of new cargo management software is set to be the number one priority of new Australian Customs Service (ACS) chief Michael Carmody, who moves across from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to replace the retiring Lionel Woodward from next year.
Announcing the appointment today -- as well as the elevation of second commissioner of taxation Michael D'Ascenzo to head of the ATO from 1 January -- federal Treasurer Peter Costello said Carmody had asked for the controversial role.
"It was initiative, he wanted a change of pace, and after 13 years he felt that the organisation could also benefit from new leadership," Costello told reporters in Canberra today.
The job must have seemed nightmarish to outgoing ACS chief Lionel Woodward in the last few months as he faced criticism from all sides over implementation of the service's new Integrated Cargo System.
The implementation of the new system -- which ran AU$200 million over budget -- last month caused some major ports in Sydney and Melbourne to grind to a virtual standstill as the freight industry struggled to adjust. The ramifications of the move are still being felt as importers, brokers and forwarders push for compensation and congestion at ports continues.
Carmody has experience in top-level responsibility for major technology change with the ATO's delivery of an AU$400 million-$450 million IT Change Program designed to boost internal efficiencies and client interaction with the office.
Costello said Carmody's experience at the ATO would serve him well at Customs.
"Customs was looking for somebody who could bring fresh vigour," he said. "Mr Carmody brought a very new approach to the tax office, particularly moving it into electronic lodgement and IT systems.
"To be frank I think that will be of use to Customs. It seemed to me to be a perfect fit."
D'Ascenzo, who is overseas until Monday, issued a statement late Thursday nominating online and electronic service delivery as a priority of his reign.
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