Defence CIO missing in action

It has been almost a year since Patrick Hannan resigned as CIO of Department of Defence and a permanent replacement has still not been appointed.

Although Air Vice Marshall Julie Hammer has been acting in the position Computerworld understands she has no intention of applying for the position on a permanent basis.

Thus, a department that spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on IT is leaderless.

Recruitment firms said it was an unusually long time for an organization to be without a CIO, saying it is akin to a rudderless ship.

The CEO of executive recruitment firm Heritage Recruitment, Graham Smith, said if a private company tried to operate without a CIO for that length of time it would be detrimental to the share price and look "professionally ridiculous".

"No organisation can be rudderless for that period of time and expect to succeed," Smith said.

"In the short term, some companies announce a CIO when the level of skill becomes available, but the reality is that not appointing a CIO is no reflection on the skill level in Australia - we have very talented people with good skills and ability.

"A CIO [at the DoD] who does not rock the boat but holds the line is not necessarily the best way forward - you need someone who will stretch corporate values, not the old grey suit brigade. You need someone who is outside the parameter of where you are thinking."

IT director of recruitment firm Ambition, Jane Bianchini, agrees with Smith, adding that it is a dubious situation to be in, particularly for the CEO or department head who needs a senior IT executive to align the core business with strategy.

"If the business strategy was clear enough 12 months ago then the people in charge of teams like application development and security or infrastructure have clearly-defined goals and then going without a CIO might not have a huge impact," Bianchini said.

"But in the commercial sector if an organisation is without a CIO it would have wide-reaching implications, maybe not immediately, but in 12 to 18 months it will come back and do damage because the CEO relies on the CIO to formulate strategy using technology as a weapon of choice."

DoD acting CIO Julie Hammer declined requests to be interviewed for this article but did say a permanent appointment will take place in due course.

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