by James Hutchinson

OSR CIO shifts to Communities NSW

Nov 01, 2010
Government IT

Government CIO, David Kennedy, will shortly leave his current role at the NSW Office of State Revenue to take up a newly-formed CIO position at Communities NSW.

The move, five weeks in the planning, will provide Kennedy with oversight over the government department’s 24 individual agencies, covering arts and culture; sports, recreation and parklands; and community development. It encompasses six major sporting and entertainment venues, three parklands, five divisions and six cultural institutions.

The role was first advertised publicly by the department in August, offering a five-year contract with an annual income of between $210,000 and $230,000.

Kennedy will report directly to department executive director of corporate services, Jo Grisard, from 8 November, and be responsible for ensuring IT is capable of handling some 50 million or more customer contacts in both face-to-face and online engagements. Communities NSW also has more than 3000 full-time staff, $10 billion in assets and a budget of more than $1 billion.

The NSW Office of State Revenue is yet to fill the CIO position left vacant by Kennedy’s leaving. It is believed to have chosen a headhunter and has already offered the role internally to other NSW government CIOs.

Kennedy said the looming challenges of the NSW state election in March and consternation over corporate shared services arrangements would prove difficult, but welcomed them with open arms.

“Regardless of the outcome [of the election] I will still take the same determined approach to make that difference,” he said. “My brief is to develop a strategy, develop a vision that holistically can improve what Communities does by leveraging technology and ultimately transitioning into the shared corporate services arrangement that NSW Government is looking to do.”

The failures of shared services seen in Queensland and Western Australia haven’t deterred Kennedy’s vision for the department, either.

“I think shared services is the way of the future because you get the economies, the capability and those improve the outcome,” he said. “Smaller agencies don’t always have the money, nor the capability from a resourcing perspective, to deliver or optimise what it does with technology. Going down a corporate shared services whole-of-government approach allows that to happen.

There’s a number of lessons to be learned in the approach, he said.

“It’s [about] understanding what you’re trying to do first and that’s the fundamental thing that we need to make sure we’ve got right. It’s understanding the model we want to use, the desired outcomes and what best, with the least risk, helps us achieve to that outcome.”

Dubbed ‘Superman’ by several of his peers, Kennedy said he hoped to “challenge the norms” of both the technological and political landscapes comprising his new role at Communities NSW. His immediate role is to develop a holistic strategy for the IT environments encompassing the department’s individual agencies — including through shared services — but the incoming CIO said he wanted to better align business processes and IT priorities.

“We have to challenge why we’re doing things the way we do them. The business doesn’t necessarily care whether I give them an email system from a server in the data centre, from a cloud-based environment or from an outsourced service provider. They’re after the capabilities the email gives them to do their job.

“At the end of the day, IT isn’t there for the sake of IT; IT is there to enable State Government and all of the agencies within State Government.”

(David Kennedy reflects on five successful years of open source at the Office of State Revenue)