NSW CIO rebukes Gartner attack

NSW CIO rebukes Gartner attack

A month after the NSW government named its first Chief Information Officer (CIO), research firm Gartner has publicly attacked the position, boldly predicting the chances of someone succeeding in the role are slim.

Speaking at Gartner's Agile Government roadshow, Gartner managing vice president John Kost told a Sydney audience that more than 50 per cent of public sector CIOs will fail because they are trying to tackle the wrong jobs.

Kost went as far as to joke that, in this instance, the CIO title stands for "Career Is Over".

"In NSW I understand that you've just hired a CIO, and I have to tell you with some concern that the model being undertaken in NSW is one that does not have a great track record," Kost said.

"I haven't met with (NSW CIO) Paul Edgecumbe yet, but this model has not been met with that much success in the past.

"I'm not saying he is going to fail, it's just that based on past experiences there is a good probability that it may not work."

The predictions of doom for NSW's first CIO from Gartner's public sector expert were not shared by the man in question. Edgecumbe told Computerworld he was determined to succeed and was surprised to hear such sentiments from a man he was yet to meet.

"It's always amusing to hear these things from someone you have never met. He [Kost] seems to have a very defeatist point of view. If you have a defeatist view [on a task] it will never happen... if you don't give it a go, you may as well pack your bags and go home now. You wouldn't say this about a large public sector organization," Edgecumbe said.

He also countered the CIO's role had already been proven successful across large organizations in both the public and private sectors and he expected to succeed in his role.

"I'm not going into this blind. The government has a responsibility to extract the best value for the taxpayers' dollar," Edgecumbe said.

Asked what priorities he sees for getting the NSW's government's IT house in order, Edgecumbe nominated procurement process improvements, including "leveraging purchasing power between agencies".

Rather than take a back seat to technology development, Edgecumbe said public sector organizations could become contributors to technological development "finding themselves in the peculiar position of trying to push the bleeding edge of technology on a scale that many corporations never do".

"[Public sector agencies] have the funds and the wherewithal to become contributors [to technological development]; if we can stimulate that community, that can only benefit the government," Edgecumbe said - adding he "was only ever a phone call away" had Kost sought his views.

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