Peter Grant: I'm not like other Govt CIOs

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Peter Grant: I'm not like other Govt CIOs
Peter Grant

Turning Queensland IT around.

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Incoming Queensland Government chief information officer (GCIO) is adamant that his position should not be confused with that of other GCIOs - or with his previous tenure in the role.

Speaking to iTnews in one of his first interviews, Peter Grant distinguished his current role from the GCIO post he held for the Queensland Government between 2005-2008 and also spelt out his main agenda for the year ahead.

“At the end of the three years [to 2008], I left as I planned. Not many people knew that and wondered [why] I was no longer there,” Grant says.

“[Now], everybody thinks I have just come back in the same role. That’s not the case."

Grant is proud of his achievements the first time around, including the introduction of an IT Government graduate program, an internationally-recognised planning and coordination type methodology based on Queensland Government Enterprise Architecture (QGEA), and improved relationships with the IT industry.

However, he was attracted to take a second stint as Queensland GCIO by its challenge to give the State Government a new level of confidence when proceeding with IT projects.

“It’s not been done anywhere else," Grant says. "We have no models to copy.”

Grant wants to put in place a set of governance processes and drive relationships with agencies to make sure IT projects work.

Governance is critical to maintaining the Government's confidence to run major change initiatives, he says.

There have only been a handful of real changes in the IT since the 1960s. The mainframe, the mini computer, client-server computing and then the internet.

“We're on the verge of another step change: it’s across multiple dimensions," Grant says.

"We have cloud. We have consumerisation [of IT]. We have BYO devices. We have mobile workforces. We have geo-spatial views of operations that we did not have before [and these are maturing at the same time].

“The critical thing in my role is to bring some of this innovation to the operational level of government faster.

“The challenge is to do it in a way that is operationally safe. Major change initiatives are tough.”

The process and outcomes are tricky. The challenge, Grant says, is to do this while making sure people could continue doing their jobs while maintaining the highest possible standard of government service delivery.

"We have to bring credibility back to the IT industry that we can be relied on to do important things," Grant says.

"You could not think of a better time to be in the IT industry in a key role."

Defending debacles

Grant assumed the GCIO role amid a series of beatings the State Government has taken over IT projects, including much-publicised payroll issues in its Health administration.

He acknowledges the issues but says they are being addressed and, in any event, they need to be balanced against the many achievements inside the Department.

Health has launched several initiatives that Grant says "lead the whole country. No one ever sees them," he says.

“Whenever state health CIOs get together they envy the achievements of Queensland Heath. Many admit they are miles away from getting there.”

Grant cites the example of a tool called “the viewer”, which enables doctors in any hospital in Queensland to access patient medical records, even if they come from other hospitals.

Additionally, Queensland’s digital breast screening and its telehealth initiatives broke new ground ahead of other governments, according to Grant.

“On any metric we are leading the country,” he says. “The disappointing thing for me is that these outcomes never make the front page."

Grant fears that downbeat tales of IT in the state will be a turn-off for prospective IT employees.

“It gets hard for us to sell careers in IT when we only ever publicise our failures," Grant says. “We only [ever seem to] kick [IT] for doing things that have gone wrong."

Read on to page two for Grant's views on why Gershon-style IT reform won't work for Queensland.

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