Western Australia appoints first CIO for IT cost-cutting drive

The Western Australian government is appointing its first CIO as part of a AU$25 million ICT Renewal and Reform Fund aimed at reducing the state's IT spend, which is estimated to be around AU$1 billion annually.

Western Australia is about to get its first government chief information officer, with Premier Colin Barnett and Finance Minister Bill Marmion announcing the new role on Wednesday as part of a reform program aimed at cutting back on the state's IT costs.

In a joint release, Barnett and Marmion said that the new state CIO role would guide IT reforms across the state to save money and deliver better services to the community.

"With a spend of at least AU$1 billion a year on ICT, there needs to be better coordination, consolidation, and prioritisation of these resources across state government," said Barnett. "The delivery of ICT services in government has not always been as efficient and effective as it might have been."

In order to achieve its goal of cutting down on IT spending, the WA government is establishing a AU$25 million ICT Renewal and Reform Fund, which is to be used to support government agencies with specific IT reforms, and also encourage more "efficient and effective" IT arrangements.

The government plans to finance the fund from the forecast AU$85 million reduction in IT spend among its agencies, which it expects to see after the establishment of the fund and the implementation of reforms.

Initially, the state CIO will focus on cutting the cost of IT services across the government while enhancing transparency in the delivery of major projects. The CIO is then expected to develop an IT reform plan over 12 months to support the new strategic direction.

The new state CIO role and the proposed IT reform program follows moves by New South Wales and the Northern Territory late last year to obtain further advice from the private sector as to how best approach government IT.

In 2012, NSW released its official government IT strategy, aimed at improving customer service, data management, procurement, and industry engagement, while in 2013, Queensland launched its IT action plan.

"We are well positioned to learn from the experience of other states and from overseas, which has shown that the strongest ICT reform comes from having a broad approach right across government," said Marmion.

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