Public sector IT projects have typically lacked common sense and need to evolve in order to survive a change of government and leader.
This is the view of Dr Steve Hodgkinson, CIO at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), who believes that public sector agencies are “littered with the wreckage created by CIOs” who have a grand vision but an inability to create meaningful and sustainable change through people.
Hodgkinson – who clinched the No 7 spot in this year’s CIO50 – joined a panel IT chiefs in the final list, along with judging panel member and Gartner research director Jenny Beresford, to discuss their projects. Other CIO50 finalists joining the panel included Hilda Clune, CIO at PwC, and Kerry Holling, chief information and digital officer at Western Sydney University.
Government CIOs need to focus first on doing no harm and then doing things that are sustainable and have common sense, Hodgkinson told the audience.
“It actually sounds stupid to say that, but so many things that have been attempted with regards to ICT have been inherently unsustainable because they were very fragile. They depend on a particular set of circumstances and people and motivations to work.”
But the keys to success come down to valuing people, Hodgkinson said, explaining the future of the industry involves “empowering people to exercise their common sense to make good and practical choices” and to just do things.
“Disruption comes and disruption goes. In the public sector, I’ve always had the view that there’s a whole cadre of people that keep the public sector operating from one day to the next, from one week to the next, from one month to the next – and those are the people, that as a CIO, we need to connect with and empower because they know what to do,” he says. “There are changes in the industry and we need to work out a way to bring those changes to them in order to succeed.”
Hodgkinson said he’s particularly proud of the work he’s done with the deployment of a family violence referral and triage system that automates the flow of referrals from Victoria Police to the DHHS and agencies in the social services sector.