Qld IT exec’s parting barbs revealed

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Qld IT exec’s parting barbs revealed

Internal emails name fresh DSITIA CIO.

Queensland's Department of Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts has been urged by a former IT executive to change the 'illogical' way it does business to ensure it can achieve its long-term change program, according to documents released under freedom of information.

IT executive Jen Beresford was appointed Assistant Director-General leading DSITIA’s whole-of-government IT functions on April14 this year, leaving a year as CIO at Swinburne University and a history of tech roles in the education and banking sectors.

But Beresford had already resigned from the department by the first week in May, as originally reported by Fairfax Media.

She cited "personal reasons" for her swift departure, according to documents made public under Queensland’s Right to Information legislation, but left the state government with several suggestions as to how its lead IT agency could operate better.

In an email to then Acting Director-General Kathy Dunning, Beresford complained that the strategic ICT unit within DSITIA was "not a logical grouping of functions and should probably be disbanded and structurally separated across DSITIA”.

Under the new agency structure (PDF) introduced earlier this year, Strategic ICT takes in responsibility for CITEC, ICT renewal, ICT strategic sourcing and strategic ICT projects.

“A change program is not just lots of smaller activities bunched under the ICT renewal banner,” Beresford said in a separate email, suggesting the state needed to look towards “something with purpose and measurable value”.

She recommended a number of perceived conflicts of interest be remediated through structural changes, specifically by:

  • Separating the procurement functions of strategic sourcing away from the delivery functions of ICT renewal and strategic projects, possibly moving the former to an “operational unit with generic finance and procurement focus”;
  • Moving the general manger of CITEC out of direct business and involvement in its day-to-day business and divestment planning, as it prepares for a “ready for sale mode”;
  • Staffing the strategic ICT office with its own independent staff rather than advisors from within CITEC;
  • Assuming a “total and continual focus” on the project management discipline as a priority, including recruiting staff at the top of their game, and introducting common standards and approaches to unify their work.

Other pieces of advice have been redacted from the RTI release.

Beresford called on the department to use the public scrutiny on DSITIA following several high-profile IT departures as “an opportunity to pay more attention to the structure and governance of the [whole-of-government] ICT portfolio" and allocate more dedicated funding to "really make it possible for long term change”.

A spokesperson for DSITIA told iTnews the department has reviewed Beresford’s recommendations.

“Ms Beresford worked for the department for eight days,” she said (when leave and public holidays are taken into account). “There is a continuous review of strategic IT and Ms Beresford’s comments will be given appropriate weight."

Shake-up brings in new face

The documents also revealed that DSITIA has since recruited an agency CIO, poaching Queensland Police IT exec Gyl Stacey for the role earlier this year.

Stacey was previously director of the information services branch at QPS, and leaves after more than ten years with the service.

Prior to that she worked in the vendor sector for Fujitsu.

In emails between Stacey and chief change and operations officer Evan Hill, the new CIO expressed a desire to “hit the ground running with a program of work."

Stacey said she was looking into opportunities to leverage “some of the enabling contracts and capability" at QPS in the new role.

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