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EXCLUSIVE – The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as the Builder of good information systems and ICT solutions for organisations

EXCLUSIVE – The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as the Builder of good information systems and ICT solutions for organisations

In an interview with OpenGov, Mr. Jack Hondros shared updates from the amalgamation of government
departments of Western Australia
in July 2017 and the ongoing transitions in terms
of operating model and consolidation of departmental functions. He also gave
his insights about the some of the changes in the approach of government as an
experienced public officer with more than 30 years of service.

Mr. Hondros
previously worked for over a decade with the Department of Finance (Formerly
Dept. of Treasury and Finance) in the ICT Major Projects Division with a
primary role to deliver ICT corporate and business solutions, major ICT
contracts and projects. He has been the CIO of the Department of Planning (now
Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage) since September 2014. 

Could you tell us about your role as CIO at the
Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage?

The
Department recently formed under the new WA Labour Government and begun
operation on 1 July 2017. This
Department amalgamated the former Departments of Planning, Lands, as well as
the heritage and land functions from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and
the State Heritage Office.

My role is
currently to continue the management and development of information systems and
business solutions for the Planning portfolio. Work is currently in progress to
form a new amalgamated operating model and to review the Departments corporate
functions. I currently provide leadership and advice as a member of the Business
and Corporate Services Division.

Could you share with us some of the major
projects/initiatives that your department is working right now and their
implementation plans?

The
Department is currently consolidating HR, Payroll and Finance functions into
single SaaS solutions.  A current review
is underway reviewing a number of core systems and two major projects are in
progress to consolidate HR and Payroll systems and to review corporate networks
and business systems. This strategy is also considering GovNext.

The WA Government went through a process of
amalgamation in July this year, with many departments being combined into one,
such the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, which were previously 4
separate departments/sections. Could you share with us some of the
merger-related opportunities and challenges in your role as the CIO?

There are
many opportunities for improvements in business processes through the selection
of best practice across the four former Departments.  All had some extremely good ways to deliver
business ICT solutions that are being scaled out to the whole Department.  This has enabled consolidation and some
potential savings as time goes forward.

The people that
we now have in the combined DPLH are very talented and have come together in a
professional way to work together to deliver new ways of working. The technology and systems challenges are
that we have increased our complexity and added a range of services. This will take to time to normalise. A key driver for this will be the formation
of new governance and functional structures to support the new services across
the Department in 2018.

In which phase is the Department of Planning,
Lands and Heritage at with regards to the GovNext-ICT initiative run by the
Office of the GCIO?

We are at
the planning phase working on Enterprise Architecture and project planning.

You have been working in the public sector for
more than 3 decades. What do you think have been the biggest changes you have
seen in government in terms of ICT adoption and digital transformation?

I see that
Government has worked through a number of consolidation cycles from the work
that the Department of Bureau Services undertook in the mid 1990’s and then to
a distributed model and then back again to a Shared Services model.  When I commenced in ICT, the WA Government
operated financials, HR and project systems using IBM Mainframe services hosted
by the Department of Bureau Services.  We
then decommissioned this and then in 2005 introduced the Department of Shared
Services for 45 Departments for Finance and some larger Departments around for
HR/payroll. This was then decommissioned
and today we are now looking at moving the risk to commercial arrangements that
provide consolidation through GovNext for networks, Cloud and infrastructure.

I see this
cycle continuing in a diminishing cycle as the technology matures and the cost
of managed services reduces through standardisation and the rapid rise in
Artificial Intelligence solutions.

The role of
the CIO, to me is aligned to a Builder of houses or buildings. My role has changed to a consulting role that
co-ordinates external and internal resource through the formation of plans and
strategies.  Very much like building a
house, we must start at the foundations and work from there and involve
stakeholders in the planning, testing and delivery phases.

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