No dedicated CIO needed at Administrative Appeals Tribunal, says report

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No dedicated CIO needed at Administrative Appeals Tribunal, says report

Suggests combining the job with chief legal officer.

Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) doesn’t need a dedicated CIO, according to a new Statutory Review of the organisation.

Recently tabled in federal Parliament and conducted by former Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon Ian Callinan AC, the Review was conducted after the amalgamation of the AAT, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal.

The Review’s terms of reference (pdf) focus on whether the amalgamation has succeeded and the AAT is now meeting its statutory objectives. The Review’s thrust is that amalgamations aren’t easy, this one hasn’t gone perfectly and the AAT is therefore “not always meeting community expectations”, in part due to backlogs.

The Review doesn’t find that the Tribunal’s tech is to blame for the problem, instead suggesting the organisation is under-staffed and could usefully be restructured.

Which is where it loses a dedicated CIO.

Callinan assessed the Tribunal’s current structure and recommended its current Registry be divided into two “functional sections” one of which would be formed by merging the offices of assistant registrar and COO, while the other could merge the roles of chief legal officer (CLO) and CIO.

Doing so would address the current situation that sees e-services, information management and general IT split between different executive directors. A proposed new org chart therefore has the combined CLO and CIO in charge of:

  • Legal support
  • Litigation
  • Freedom of information & Privacy
  • Publication
  • Records and case management
  • Information technology
  • Systems architecture
  • Digital strategy

There is one small technology-related recommendation in the Review: Callinan notes that AAT matters that have national security considerations can’t be conducted electronically, but recommends that restriction be removed for “hearings of a procedural nature and not touching the substantive material in the application”.

One more curiosity to note: Callinan commented on the AAT's culture and found "Highly respected and competent Members, including the judicial ones of considerable seniority, have not always been treated with the courtesy, let alone respect, that their office and duties require, by some staff members."

His supporting evidence for that assertion is a single and not-very-bitchy email with the subject line "Seating options on Level 15 (or 14) that says, in part:  "This is an absolute nonsense. And I really don't want to escalate this when it is sooooo not necessary."

Using five "o"s certainly does appear to be an indicator of toxic disrespect in the workplace.

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