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EXCLUSIVE - Supporting the Premier of NSW through innovative technology

EXCLUSIVE – Supporting the Premier of NSW through innovative technology

Could you tell us about your role as CIO of the Department of Premier & Cabinet (DPC), NSW Government? 

The DPC is one of four central government agencies within NSW.  The Department is mainly a strategy/policy-based organisation focused on supporting the NSW Government to deliver on its identified priorities.

Often, major initiatives are done by the line agencies within NSW – building a road would be the transport department, the hospital will be the health department…but where something is new and it’s not clear, or where there are initiatives that require cross-department coordination, then that’s particularly where we get involved.We also fulfil a number of other functions. We oversee the cabinet process within NSW including management of the various committees and sub-committees.  We also have a role in coordinating major events in NSW, for example visits by overseas dignatories or organisation of events such as Australia Day. From an IT point of view, we support both the staff of the department as well provide IT support to the Premier, the Ministers and their staff. Whilst the overall IT environment is not complex, it is critical that the overall service we provide is extremely responsive and efficient.

To support these various users we use a combination of external outsourced shared service providers complemented with a small internal IT organisation. 

What are some of the major initiatives that you have been involved in recently at your department? 

Over the last two years, the major initiative has been the relocation from 4 locations in Sydney to a new office building at 52 Martin Place.  As part of the relocation the Department adopted an activity-based working model which included implementation of a significant program of new technology to enable staff to work flexibly, both within our work confinement but also capability to work remotely. Components of the new technology included deployment of laptops to all staff, implementation of a fully managed print solution with follow-me printing, implementation of a unified communications solution and telephone mobility, and finally installation of a fully integrated audio visual solution in meeting rooms and break-out areas, including video conferencing, broadcast television, live broadcast of Parliament and configuration of an integrated room booking / visitor management system.  

To enable activity based working the Department has also considered holistically what is required to create the concept of a “mobile worker”.  This included an extensive programme around electronic document and records management (EDRMS). The department is predominantly now electronic on our EDRMS. All approvals  of our official briefs and documents are now done via electronic workflows in our EDRMS and email systems.

Another major initiative has been the development of a new cabinet document management system. This is essentially a document management system with very specific workflows and security controls within it. We’ve now deployed this system across the wider government sector so all authorised people within agencies can get access to it. We have also deployed, for some of the key people like the Premier and the Ministers, cabinet documentation to their iPad via a specific app.

One area we continue to work on is that of mobility. Particularly, for the Premier and Ministers, we continue to explore ways in which we can maintain the native useability of devices whilst ensuring an appropriate level of security.  Recently we have seen good results combining inherent features of the Apple IOS operating system together with a Mobile Device Management platform.

More recently, together with a number of other NSW government departments, we have participated on a major outsourcing agreement. We have transitioned from an internal government shared services organisation to external suppliers – Unisys for IT outsourcing and Infosys for Business Process Outsourcing functions. The transition occurred approximately a year ago. The focus is now to transform out operations, principally moving our IT services / applications from Government owned infrastructure to “as a service” offerings from the external suppliers.  Over the next 12 months we will also consider migrating to other services such as Office 365, and potentially other private / public cloud offerings. Overall we have approximately 40 to 50 projects underway at any point of time. 

As the CIO, what are some of the challenges you face? 

IT security continues to be a significant concern and challenge, particularly in parts of my area of control. We continue to assess the overall security environment, reviewing our capacity to protect as well as respond, through a risk management approach. A challenge for us, as a strategy/policy-based organisation, is the desire to get better data analytics and better access to data for our staff. In NSW, a Data Analytics Centre has recently been established. It is early days, but we hope that this will provide a future source for our staff to get access to relevant data to assist them in performing their jobs.

What do you think of the role of innovation in your department? 

Within our organisation we play a significant role, in terms of seeing how innovation can improve the efficiency of the organisation and our staff, as well as improve the quality of outcomes. Recently, a significant initiative, on the back of the activity based working implementation, has been the adoption of flexible work practices within the Department. We have implemented technology now that enable our staff to work anywhere and anytime. Our staff can now work flexibly, either from home or other office locations, with full access to the Department’s IT systems.

However, we also have a role in assisting our policy areas in seeing how technology can be used to derive better outcomes for the citizens of NSW.  In NSW, the Premier has a set of 12 key priorities / KPIs, including reducing childhood obesity and reducing youth homelessness.

I use this example, as youth are keen adopters of technology, and there are number examples of how technology can be used to track health outcomes e.g. wearable technology, or just generally use technology to keep in communication for support. We continue to work with other Departments to try and identify new ways by which technology can achieve the Premier’s priorities and KPIs.

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