5 minutes with... Tony Mee, Assistant Secretary, Business IS Branch, Dept Family and Community Services

What does your organisation do?

The Family and Community Services portfolio is responsible for a broad range of social policy issues affecting Australian society and the living standards of Australian families, communities and individuals. The portfolio is responsible for income support, housing policy, community support, disability services, child care services and family issues, including family payments, child support and family relationships. The Family and Community Services portfolio consists of: Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS), which incorporates the Child Support Agency (CSA) (located within the department but a semi-autonomous body) Centrelink, which delivers income support payments and services on behalf of FaCS; the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) (The resources needed to support the operations of the SSAT are provided through FaCS.) The Branch provides a range of IS and IT services to the core FaCS Department and the SSAT.

Where is your head office and how many employees and end users do you have?

FaCS National Office is in Canberra SSAT head office is in Melbourne.

IT services are run out of Canberra where most of the end-user population is located. Number of end users across the two supported agencies is about 2000. The branch has 118 staff and contractors.

Who do you report to, and who reports to you?

I report to the executive director, people, business improvement and support. Direct reports to me are: IT finances and contracts; strategy and governance; application and data management; information management and operations management

What is your IT budget?

Core funding is about $14 million plus projects.

What are your key applications?

FaCS key applications are: Funding Management systems - currently undergoing major redevelopment; SAP - HR/Finance

What is your key infrastructure?

Microsoft Win2K/Office/Lotus notes on desktop; NT4 on servers; Acer notebooks; Dell desktops; HP servers

Given an unrestricted budget, what IT technology or service would you buy for your company?

Full suite of tools to improve information and data management, analysis and reporting and portals.

How long have you worked in IT?

For 24 years.

What IT technology do you lust after?

Secure wireless and services.

Which IT technology do you think is overhyped right now?

Web services.

What area of IT would you like to understand better?

Web services.

What are your greatest IT challenges?

Application and data integration.

What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make?

Selecting an outsourced provider.

What areas of IT do you specialise in?

Long since moved on from specialisation.

What is the most exciting IT project or implementation you have been involved in?

Implementing an new network for FACS and establishing its IT operations from scratch.

What are the most pressing issues IT managers face?

Meeting customer and business expectations within budget and demonstrating business value.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at work?

FaCS on the front page of The Australian some years ago as a result of the early release of federal budget material.

Where do you see your career heading and how do you plan to get there?

Open to offers and opportunities.

What potential IT disaster stops you from sleeping?

The usual - disaster recovery and security.

How do you make decisions on IT purchases?

All all significant purchases and purchasing decisions are made via RFI/RFT processes as part of approved projects.

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