Chapman's rough end of the pineapple

If I was Alan Chapman, the acting executive director of the Queensland Government Chief Information Office, I'd be really irate right now.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

If I was Alan Chapman, the acting executive director of the Queensland Government Chief Information Office, I'd be really irate right now.

Alan Chapman Qld Govt

Alan Chapman
(Credit: Queensland

Chapman sprang into the IT public eye when he became the acting chief information officer following predecessor Peter Grant being seconded to Queensland Health in July 2007. He continued in the role when Grant jumped ship to Microsoft.

In fact he'd held it, in acting capacity, for almost a year and a half before the title at least was handed to Mal Grierson in November 2008 when the Department of Public Works became the lead agency for the government's IT function. (Grierson was the director general.) Chapman then became the "acting" executive director of the Chief Information Office.

As I understand it, Chapman still did exactly the same thing he always did as acting CIO when he was the executive director, just without the title.

Meanwhile Grierson is said to wear the title of CIO so that he can swing his considerable political weight to try and get agencies to swallow the government's consolidated IT vision.

Now, after doing the work for a title he doesn't own, Chapman is being rewarded by having his office split up and "having the opportunity" to apply for one of the roles heading up one of the shattered parts.

If I was him, I'd tell the government exactly where they could put those roles. But given his character, he might actually take one. Chapman is said to be an extremely capable IT leader, but who isn't enough of a political animal to really flourish in the upper ranks. He's spent 25 years working for the government or universities which must, at times, have been a thankless job.

Describing himself in a ZDNet.com.au interview last year, Chapman said he had experienced "all aspects of ICT from the inside including software development, IT operations, architecture, design, procurement and strategy". The broad perspective didn't evade him either, he said.

In the interview he said his ideal CIO position would be working "for a moderately-sized software technology start-up". "I think the challenge combined with the raw energy and enthusiasm would make for an exciting job," he said.

In my opinion, now is the time for Chapman to live that dream. Sure, markets aren't great. Sure, government is about as safe as you can get. I still think that if he doesn't do it now, he won't. Yet if he's that worried about security, there are plenty of other state governments who'd love an experienced CIO. There's a general dearth of good men out there as I've been told over and over again.

The most important thing in my opinion is for Chapman not to take a demotion by applying for a portion of his former role. It isn't constructive. All it would do would be to reward the Queensland Government for shafting him.

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