by Tim Lohman

Defence to Initiate ICT Reform Program, Expand CIO Role

May 05, 20093 mins
CareersData CenterGovernment

The Defence department has signalled a raft of changes to its approach to information technology under a new ICT reform program.

Announced with the release of the department’s strategic policy white paper on May 4, the program seeks to give Defence an improved ICT platform with tighter cost control, greater efficiencies, and faster decision making cycles.

The reform program will see Defence’s chief information officer (CIO) role evolve to a “coordinating capability manager” role for all Defence ICT. The role will be responsible for initiating closer stakeholder engagement and alignment under a new stakeholder engagement model.

The CIO will also oversee the optimisation of Defence’s ICT investment. This will involve the development of a single Defence desktop environment, an improved network to support higher-speed connectivity, and a single portfolio for ICT funding across all parts of Defence.

Defence has also flagged that it will implement a single enterprise architecture across the whole of Defence, as well as run a consolidation program aimed at simplifying its technology base. This will include reducing its data centres from 200 to fewer than 10.

Software and application purchases and maintenance will also be consolidated, and ICT capability development and delivery methodologies will be re-engineered.

“Defence will consolidate, centralise and standardise ‘like’ services, delivering improved shared services such as garrison support, payroll, human resources and finance functions and developing more efficient methods of service delivery,” the white paper says.

A new “centre of excellence” will also be created within the Defence Support Group to provide advice and carry out the new standardisation process.

This approach will see the introduction of a whole-of-Defence enterprise resource management system coupled with stronger governance arrangements to deliver an improved performance management framework.

“These changes will provide budget transparency, clearer lines of accountability, improved product costing, garrison support, estate management information, and personnel and financial support systems,” the white paper says.

According to the white paper, the reforms also have the potential to produce significant savings over the next decade in areas such as productivity improvements and non-equipment procurement spending.

In light of its consolidation program and the centralisation of services, military workforce reductions are expected, however Defence claims there is an expected net growth in the workforce due to the “civilianisation” of military back office functions and insourcing of contractor support.

According to Defence, the reform program will by no means be simple to implement and could lead to culture shock in some areas of the defence force.

“To achieve the required outcomes of reform of Defence support services, the proposed changes will challenge the orthodoxies about demand and consumption policy and how services have traditionally been provided,” the white paper says. “The emphasis will be on adopting a more commercial mindset to guarantee productivity improvements and efficiency gains while providing the support vital for a capable ADF.”

The white paper can be viewed here