by Lisa Banks

Government blueprint for reform: What it means for CIOs

Jun 18, 2010
CareersGovernment ITInnovation

The role of CIOs in government will change in the wake of the Rudd government accepting the Government 2.0 Taskforce reforms, according to a new report from analyst firm, Ovum.

According to the report Australian reform blueprint underpins e-government aspirations, key recommendations from the taskforce as outlined in Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform will “be music to the ears of agency CIOs and those long suffering souls on the frontline of e-government”. The taskforce recommended nine overall reforms to reduce red tape and increase transparency between government agencies, citizens and businesses.

Report co-author, Kevin Noonan, spoke exclusively to CIO about why the blueprint will change the role of the chief information officer.

“CIOs who want to be seen as the non-technical people who can talk the talk of business in government need to be able to understand the implications of government in a more detailed way than just the words on the paper. There are more important messages of how IT needs to be delivered in the future,” he said.

“It brings the CIO out of the back office and into partnerships with policy deliverers within government. It’s no longer good enough to assume that IT is just a calculator. It’s there to service innovation and to deliver services differently.”

Noonan said the blueprint is the first step in creating a government driven by the customer and that collaboration in government is vital if this is to occur.

“In the past there has been a perceived divide between the interests of IT and the interests of the government organisation. As a basis of that, somehow it was possible to deliver government services without thinking about IT services at the same time.”

“There’s a strong push toward shared outcomes across government agencies, about breaking down the stone pipes between government, government agencies and ministerial portfolios. That has some big implications for IT systems. It means they need to be more open to sharing information between agencies to achieve common outcomes,” he said.

While there is a realisation that collaboration needs to take place, Noonan said that it may be a tough pill to swallow for CIOs in the public service.

“Only 53 per cent of public servants surveyed believe that agencies are willing to collaborate and less than 40 per cent of senior executives see themselves as part of a whole of government leadership team. The report raises the bar a great deal but it’s pretty clear that it may not be welcomed in some parts of government,” he said.

Noonan thinks that by accepting all recommendations from the Government 2.0 Taskforce, the federal government is making citizens the centre of reform and therefore, essential IT systems will need to change.

“People don’t want to rock up to the counter anymore, they want to deal with government over the Net and there’s a message there for CIOs that our ways of delivering technology have to be built around technology as the prefered method of communication,” Noonan said.