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The digital disruption of the CIO

Marie Johnson, managing director and chief digital officer, Centre for Digital Business | May 26, 2014
It’s time the Australian government appointed a chief digital officer, says Marie Johnson

The article rightly says that it's the CEO who is accountable for the enterprise architecture. This is not a CIO's responsibility.

This perspective on accountability raises the question as to who in government is responsible for creating an enterprise architecture that determines how the government should operate.

The Australian government's decision to eradicate the CIO role has profound implications for whole-of-government strategy, governance, and risk.

Having a clear and executable strategy, strong governance and unambiguous accountability will determine what the role is. This is not to say that because there has been an Australian Government CIO in one form or another for the past decade, that things should not change.

The rise of the chief digital officer

I have long advocated a new role - re-framed in the broader context of digital transformation - the role of the chief digital officer (CDO).

I am delighted that the National Commission of Audit has similarly identified the need for such a role - and positioned this as a whole-of-government transformation position.

The time has come for conversations to focus on how this new role could drive the transformation and re-imagination of public services over the decades ahead.

This is my vision. The CDO role will not be about business as usual or an agency-by-agency approach and for that reason, the digital transformation of government must be centrally driven - the person leading this must have passion and drive.

A 'Commission of Transformation' group should be set up - similar to reconstruction commissions that are created after man-made or natural disasters.

This no longer assumes that public sector services will be delivered by the government: the digital delivery platform will be fluid and shaped by what the client wants.

The team must unapologetically be the world's best. Drawn from all sectors and disciplines, the best from the giants of the web, human factor specialists, designers, systems thinkers, modelers, architects, and innovators from developed and emerging markets.

The government will source talent not through a long drawn out procurement process but through an innovative method akin to mobilising reserves.

The effort to deliver this transformation needs to be imaginative, scientific, measured and agile and the timeframes need to be aggressive. Although driven centrally, this transformation will have a system-wide accountability framework.

We have well and truly moved from the industrial to the digital age with all the signs and symptoms of digital disruption. Government is not immune and strong and innovative leadership is required.

The Australian government spends more than $5 billion annually on technology so there's a compelling urgency for it act on the recommendations of the National Commission of Audit and appoint a chief digital officer.

Source: CIO Australia


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