NT inquiry calls for establishment of govt CIO

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NT inquiry calls for establishment of govt CIO

Learning from fellow states about how to fix IT.

A Northern Territory parliamentary committee charged with investigating the government’s chequered IT history has called for the appointment of a whole-of-government CIO.

The committee was convened in August 2013, in the wake of the Territory’s disastrous asset management system (AMS) replacement, which blasted its original $14 million budget out of the water and was eventually cancelled after costing the Territory $70 million.

Introducing its final report, committee chair Lia Finocchiaro said rarely had the need for change been demonstrated more clearly than "through the failure of the asset management system project”.

But the report noted that the territory's experiences with IT failures were not unique, citing a 'wealth of documentation' on dealing with tech problems with its neighbour states.

One of the first strategies the committee recommended to the government was the appointment of a central government CIO, with a broad mandate for functions that range from “fundamental” to “visionary”.

“Given the increasingly integral and significant role of ICT in government operations, there is a strong rationale for appointing a government CIO. This position would support and strengthen the ICT governance framework, coordinate framework activities and provide a central resource and reference point.”

- Management of ICT Projects by Government Agencies report

The CIO would sit on a peak ICT Governance Board the committee also suggested be established.

It also advised the government fix one of the critical issues blamed for the asset management overspend.

A shortage of applicable IT skills in Darwin forced the NT government to fly in IT contractors from interstate to work on the project, at huge cost.

The ICT Governance Board, in unison with the Territory’s public service office, should develop a plan for attracting and retaining IT skills within the government workforce, the committee advised. It should also team up with local industry to expand the pool of tech skills available in the Darwin contract workforce.

The committee commended the NT Government for the progress it has already made in the IT space following the AMS crisis, including the establishment of the ICT governance framework and mechanisms to tighten up investment in projects.

But it also said the measures were too narrow, and will only ensure accountability across the highest level of risky and expensive initiatives, rather than expanding reforms right through agencies.

“While major/critical projects will be oversighted by the ICT Governance Board, the oversight and guidance of smaller, less significant projects will be undertaken by agencies.

“As it stands, the framework lacks the strategies and mechanisms required to adequately embed its core principles, policies and practices at the agency level.”

- Management of ICT Projects by Government Agencies report

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