First NSW executive council formed to consolidate IT

NSW CIO-elect Paul Edgecumbe is wasting no time looking for ways to streamline the state's IT inner workings. A newly-formed executive council will begin regular meetings as early as June.

The plan was announced in a meeting with government IT executives this week and detailed in an exclusive interview with Computerworld.

"I want to involve CIOs from government agencies in a CIO council where we jointly formulate IT strategies," Edgecumbe said. "This is the first ICT strategic executive plan at a high level. We will then have a base to discuss opportunities to leverage infrastructure, procurement, and strategies like open source software use."

Edgecumbe anticipates 20 IT leaders - from CIOs to treasurers - will initially be involved, but would like to see the bulk of IT "purchasers" across some 180 agencies participate in the council forums.

"It's critical that smaller agencies are represented as well since they may not have strong internal IT resources," he said, adding that the council will develop a strong plan for IT governance across NSW.

For the first three to six months of the council, the meetings may be as frequent as fortnightly.

Edgecumbe was appointed head of the Government Chief Information Office (GCIO) to oversee cross-government IT like networks, licensing, and interaction with the public.

"Each of the main agencies has a CIO as they are large organizations [so the GCIO] will see if it can co-ordinate technology and replicate each agency's success at the strategy and infrastructure levels," he said.

"I'm hoping that good ideas, projects and technology come to me. It's an opportunity for the CIOs to celebrate their good work, and there are so many opportunities to leverage skill sets."

The former Department of Education CIO hopes consolidation will eliminate reinventing the wheel so that agency CIOs can then take control of their core business.

Consolidation targets include networks, financial and HR systems, e-mail, security, data centre space and "the list goes on."

Edgecumbe wants to see any savings derived from any rationalization re-invested into IT across the state to make sure NSW doesn't get left behind.

"The community is becoming more IT savvy and is demanding 24x7 access to government services; IT costs aren't necessarily coming down," he said. NSW government IT staff, he said, will also have the opportunity to broaden their horizons by undertaking more inter-agency work.

"Each agency should concentrate on its core business and less on the backend of IT," he said. "There may be budgeting issues but no issue can't be resolved. I'm cognizant of not creating a bureaucracy around a bureaucracy."

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