Gershon's razor hits Centrelink's Canberra help desk

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Gershon's razor hits Centrelink's Canberra help desk

Operations shift to Brisbane and Adelaide.

Centrelink plans to shift the bulk of its IT help desk and development activities from Canberra to facilities in Brisbane and Adelaide in response to the Gershon Review.

In a wide-ranging interview with iTnews, Centrelink CIO John Wadeson said that while the agency has negotiated better prices from suppliers during the first phase of the review, the road ahead requires a review of Centrelink's "management structures" and a rationalisation of its IT support help desk.

"We are currently in the process of a reorganisation," Wadeson said. "It's a substantial change on how we've been doing things."

Centrelink currently employs 53 staff in its Canberra-based Information Technology Service Centre, the same number in Adelaide and 47 in Brisbane.

Under the restructure, staff in the Canberra office will be reduced from 53 to just six over the next three to six months.

Centrelink will offer a "limited opportunity" to another four to six Canberra-based staff to relocate to Adelaide or Brisbane, "depending on seniority levels and skill sets", but the remainder are expected to be absorbed into Centrelink's wider IT team in Canberra.

The restructure is aimed at resolving the high churn rates among IT helpdesk staff in the Canberra facility.

A spokesperson for Centrelink said that the majority of staff employed in support roles at the Canberra centre seek to generate the skills necessary to advance their careers further, usually by being promoted higher into Centrelink's IT team.

IT help desk staff in Adelaide and Brisbane, by contrast, are responsible for the operation of testing and release functions, and the centre experiences far less churn.

These two facilities will now function as 'Systems Support groups', the spokesperson said, so it "makes sense to reduce the Canberra ITSC operation in line with Gershon recommendations for IT efficiency in Government."

Senior IT executives at Centrelink won't be spared the "functional restructure" - with Wadeson planning changes "aimed around reducing the overlap and duplication in terms of roles."

Two new positions - a 'general manager' position and an 'Enterprise Architect' have been created to gain "greater clarity around roles", both reporting directly to Wadeson.

But Wadeson said no Senior Executive Service (SES) level managers in Centrelink's IT team will be made redundant.

Developers also shifting

As part of the restructure, Wadeson said, Centrelink also plans to set up a new development team in Brisbane for a scanning and digitalisation network project that aims to convert Centrelink's paper-based work into electronic forms.

Some 40 developers will be hired in Brisbane initially, with a further 25 hires planned within the next 15 months "as further work is moved from Canberra to Brisbane."

Centrelink already employs a further 120 developers in Adelaide, 22 in Hobart and 18 in Perth - the latter two of which are expected to also double in size in the next 15 months.

Read on for an in-depth interview with Centrelink CIO John Wadeson.

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