by Hamish Barwick

Q&A: Australian Maritime Safety Authority CIO

Sep 02, 20113 mins
CareersGovernmentGovernment IT

What does an average work day involve for you at Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)?

Perrin At AMSA, operations is critical, often literally the difference between life and death. However, our business continuity processes and support arrangements are quite mature so I spend more of my day interacting with our business divisions on their business projects, working with vendors to maintain our service quality, and collaborating with my corporate colleagues to build better integration between our services.

I also take the time to keep in contact with my peers across the Commonwealth, as we share a lot of the same pressures and constraints, not just as government agencies but also by being geographically clustered around Canberra. Any spare time I spend on research into emerging capabilities and trends.

What are some of the major challenges you face in the role of CIO?

Business engagement. I think the internal IT areas understand their role better now, not simply as service providers but as strategic players with a unique enterprise wide perspective. Many of our business partners are aligned with that view but there are still some expecting little more than a valet service. Ongoing communication is crucial.

As a government CIO, risk and risk management always plays a significant role. Balancing compliance and governance with delivery in a lively political environment makes the job more complex but keeps it interesting too.

What are some of the major projects you have been working on?

We have a server, storage and standard operating environment [SOE] upgrade in progress and I am rolling out unified communications and IP Telephony across our main offices. I am trialling iPads now as well.

On the information front we have a number of Geographical Information System [GIS] and data sharing projects under way. I expect these will dovetail into some of the broader government initiatives related to data sharing and citizen-centred services.

The biggest business projects include a redevelopment of ship registration and safety inspection systems, and we are also ramping up for AMSA’s new role as the single national maritime regulator. This will include a heavy data integration and information architecture component.

What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?

Mobility, social media, BYO [technology] and everything that is implied in these trends. CIOs are expected to provide for anywhere, anytime, any-device information delivery. People want the ease of consumer style interaction with technology, but the assurance of industrial strength protection that comes from the enterprise.

Hype. Gartner did us a great service by bringing the idea of the hype cycle into our consciousness. But it hasn’t stopped some of the marketing behaviours that create the bubbles in the first place. I think IT leaders benefit from regularly taking a breath and reminding themselves about their organisation’s core business.

People. Finding good ones, keeping them, training the next generation, connecting them to your corporate vision, helping them to achieve their best. I spend a lot of time in recruitment because I believe our business stands or falls on the quality of our people.

What is your favourite gadget?

I can’t get by without my Blackberry from dawn to dusk, but I must admit the iPad is more fun.

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