Up to $500k CenITex salaries cause uproar

Summary:Victoria's opposition has slammed state government IT shared services agency CenITex for hiring contractors to lead its operations at rates that likely made them the highest paid government workers in the state.

Victoria's opposition has slammed state government IT shared services agency CenITex for hiring contractors to lead its operations at rates that likely made them the highest paid government workers in the state.

[They're] probably the highest paid public servants in Victoria.

Gordon Rich-Phillips

As reported last week by ZDNet.com.au, CenITex's former CIO Bruce Carlos' contract offered him $396,000 for a year's work. The position has now been dissolved.

However, his remuneration was less than that of his former colleague Thana Velummylum, who has received $493,680 for the role of chief of operations for a contract from 1 September last year to 31 August this year. The chief of operations contract was signed with a Sydney-based company, Pharma Insight Pty, of which the company documents name Velummylum as director along with a man called Geethanjali Velummylum.

Thana Velummylum previously worked as a chief data officer at Telstra, according to what appeared to be his LinkedIn page. According to the CenITex website, he now manages customer contact and service delivery, hosting services, workplace services, and vendor and capacity management functions within the agency. The website does not indicate that his contract is about to end or what the role's future is.

Victoria's shadow Finance Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips today said he hoped to soon receive a response from the state's Department of Finance on why CenITex had hired expensive contractors to fill top positions within the agency instead of sourcing permanent employees.

Rich-Phillips said that those two contractors were "probably the highest paid public servants in Victoria". Only the head of the public ticketing project Gary Thwaites would have ranked higher, he guessed. "All these things are determined by market rates," he said, "but I wouldn't have thought they were market rates."

Rich-Phillips raised the issue last month in a state budget estimates committee, when he pointed out the large number of contractor staff including a highly paid CIO and COO. The department is due to come back next week on the questions he raised in the committee.

State Finance Minister Tim Holding said in response to queries at the hearing last month that it was important CenITex be able to get a hold of specialist skills in specialist areas. Rich-Phillips agreed but said that senior management positions shouldn't be filled by contractors. His query as to why it had been so was put on notice.

Holding's office has not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication; while a CenITex spokesperson had not responded to repeated requests for comment on the CIO and COO roles since 10 June.

In the Senate estimates hearing, Rich-Phillips also delved into CenITex's relationship with the efficient technology services (ETS) program. According to the hearing, the new program aims to standardise ICT services across 14 different agencies, such as a desktop model. CenITex will then implement those standardised services. ETS received $66 million in funding at the last budget.

Rich-Phillips said that the formation of ETS had continued confusion due to segmentation of information technology responsibilities. "I thought CenITex was supposed to be the fix," he said, adding that obviously however, the question of split responsibilities between different groups was set to continue.

Holding said that CenITex had saved $1.3 million in the financial year by taking over services, which had previously been outsourced to Unisys, and that he expected it to be $2 million per annum on an ongoing basis.

Topics: CXO


Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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