When IT leaders are unmanned

When you are in charge of ICT for New Zealand's largest local council, shouldn't you have the title CIO? I think so.

When you are in charge of ICT for New Zealand's largest local council, shouldn't you have the title CIO? I think so.

However, the new Auckland "SuperCity" that launches in November will have its IT run by a "mere" manager of information systems, answerable to the CFO. The appointment to this top role has just been announced: Mike Foley, current CIO of Watercare Services, Auckland's sewerage and water company.

Foley is already well versed in the new council that will serve well over a million residents, having spent over a year as team leader of business processes and systems for the Auckland Transitional Authority (ATA), a body created to bring the various city and regional councils in the Auckland area together.

To date, his work has involved a stocktake of existing council systems and bringing together various systems.

Already major projects have been signed and staff appointments are being made.

Having a combined council, a "supercity", will certainly be challenging. Answerable to the CFO though, it seems Foley won't have a seat at the top table.

Doing previous stories on the progress the ATA was making with the manager role, the ATA told me such a title did not demean the importance of technology to the council, but rather reflected the new body's lean structure. After all, one main point of bringing the councils together, is to save money as well as provide Auckland with a united voice.

Yet the ICT bosses at the existing councils in Auckland seemed unconvinced. They told me the complex nature of the role and the challenges of such a large council merited the title CIO. Indeed, wasn't the importance of technology reflected by many of the existing councils having a CIO reporting directly to the CEO?

Even the ATA itself noted the importance of technology by saying many roles could not be filled until the technology was sorted.

But as yet, Mike Foley will be a humble manager of information services.

I can only hope he does get the CIO title he deserves, as well as a more senior report. After all, he has just been named CIO of the Year!

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