By Julian Bajkowski
The agency tasked with coordinating whole-of-government technology strategy has been split in two by a significant shake-up in the wake of the resignation and retirement of federal Chief Information Officer Ann Steward.
A statement issued by the Australian Government Information Management Office has named Glenn Archer as the new Australian Government Chief Information Officer while at the same time installing John Sheridan into the newly created – and apparently equal – post of Australian Government Chief Technology Officer.
The appointment of twin chiefs for the Department of Finance based agency comes as the future portfolio structure of the government’s wider technology policy is mulled over by Cabinet.
One advantage of creating a dual management structure is that it could allow for machinery of government changes that send government technology policy functions back to the Department of Communications – where they were previously located – while keeping procurement functions within Finance.
The structure and effectiveness of AGIMO’s functions have logically come into question against the backdrop of the National Broadband Network which seeks to improve policy and service delivery across portfolios through improved government technology enabled by the fibre optic network.
A big challenge for the Gillard government in selling the project has been creating coordinated policies across portfolios that can aggressively take advantage of the NBN – while having whole of government technology strategy stuck in a non-policy and largely administrative portfolio.
However any push to separate parts of AGIMO may not come without resistance.
The agency has firmly stated that “the AGCIO and AGCTO functions will continue to exist within Finance” and points to the department’s focus on “a number of whole of government approaches including management of government resource assets, contracts, superannuation, procurement and more.”
“It is a useful platform for supporting a whole of government approach,” AGIMO’s statement argues.
Finance is also selling the new split structure as both “a new direction” and a “new era for Australian Government ICT.”
“The work of AGIMO has been diverging over time between two distinct areas: whole of government policy and governance, and whole of government services delivery (eg, networks, online, contract management),” Mr Archer said.
“As such we have created two distinct roles to serve each of these areas more fully.”
Mr Archer said that “in practical terms, the AGCIO will have the resources of the current Policy and Planning Division and the AGCTO will have the Agency Services Division.”
Under the latest structure, John Sheridan has been tasked with “providing whole of government service delivery and support including networks, online services and ICT procurement.”
Mr Sheridan said that the changes provided new opportunities for whole of government ICT.
“The emphasis on combining procurement activities will allow new synergies to be explored in achieving efficiencies and effectiveness in government purchasing.”
“Similarly, maintaining the focus on the combination of ICT functions that will be concentrated in Technology & Procurement Division will help to continue the successes in IT service delivery that have been the hallmark of the division since it was first created.”
The statement from AGIMO said that changes take effect from 4th February 2013.
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