Big names compete for fed govt CIO of the year crown

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Big names compete for fed govt CIO of the year crown

Who will take out the prize?

Canberra’s heavy hitters once again make up the finalists competing to be crowned 2017 federal government CIO of the year.

This year’s strong field of contenders strive to vanquish the stereotype that public agencies are slow, heavy-footed and deaf to the demands of customers. They have set out to prove that Canberra can build systems that work and enable meaningful change.

From a game-changing new way to thinking about online real estate to a whopping great supercomputer and an agency that has turned tax time into a few simple clicks, please join us in congratulating:


Ramez Katf - Australian Taxation Office


Love it or hate it, there is no denying that the ATO has revolutionised the process of lodging a tax return, taking the sting out of arguably one of the most painful government transactions Australians are expected to carry out each year.

Its digital lodgement solution has put the revenue collector within striking distance of its vision for no-touch simple tax returns, where automated, pre-filled forms only need a click of approval from a desktop, tablet or even mobile phone.

In its third year, myTax became available to all individual taxpayers for the first time in 2016 and was used by 3 million Australians.

A long way from the pages of paper forms of the past, ATO clients can now login to myTax on their smartphone using voice authentication, and the agency brags that returns can be completed in five minutes, thanks to the ability to pull and pre-fill user information from other government sources.

 Lesley Seebeck - Bureau of Meteorology

Replacement of BoM's Supercomputer

CIO Lesley Seebeck has achieved the not-inconsiderable task of delivering a world-class government supercomputer on time and on budget in just two years.

The Bureau of Meteorology, which relies on high performance computing to crunch through its complex climatic modelling, saw the writing on the wall in 2014, knowing it would need to move to a new HPC deal by 2016 when its existing hardware would no longer cater to system enhancements.

In September it seamlessly switched over to a new Cray XC40 facility 16 times faster than its old supercomputer, which will underpin and enhance the critical services the BoM delivers to a range of meteorology consumers, from emergency services to Defence and climate researchers and scientists. Shorter intervals between model runs means the BoM can deliver better, faster intelligence in situations when the smallest delay could be the difference between a home being saved or a home being lost in one of Australia’s notorious summer bushfires.

Its new-found computational power places it amongst the top ten meteorological agencies in the world.

John Sheridan - Department of Finance


In many ways, the Department of Finance’s govCMS program is the antithesis of government IT projects in the usual mould.

Since 2014, CTO John Sheridan and his team have stood up the collective, open source web content management system and hosting service with no big-bang upfront funding, and no whole-of-government adoption mandate.

Instead, Finance has steadily iterated on an effort to address a widely felt public sector pain point.

Based on the Drupal open-source CMS, Sheridan and the team has leveraged the scale of government in Australia not only to provide a cheap web hosting solution, but to bring a powerful community of developers together to share new functionality.

By all accounts, govCMS has eclipsed expectations. In its second year it has already doubled its predicted adoption rate and currently supports 104 live government websites, with 29 more in the works. Despite the low initial outlay, it is tracking beyond targets to deliver millions of dollars back to government coffers by avoiding unnecessary expenditure on websites and supporting software.

The full list of finalists can be found here. Voting will now commence for members of the iTnews LinkedIn CIO Group. If you're a CIO but not a member, head on over and request to join today.

Winners will be announced at the CIO Edge Experience (formerly the CIO Strategy Summit) on February 21 at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne.

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