State's new IT minister to ring changes

A shake-up is looming for Queensland's ICT industry, writes Sylvia Pennington.

A shake-up is looming for Queensland's ICT industry, writes Sylvia Pennington.

Newly minted Queensland IT Minister Ian Walker used his maiden airing before the state's technology sector on Friday to position himself as a rainmaker.

Mr Walker announced a tender for vendors with ICT strategy and business transformation skills to join a supplier panel for the state's 19 departments and agencies. It will open on March 15.

Addressing a packed house at the Australian Information Industry Association's monthly lunch in Brisbane, he said the tender would be the first of three for technology procurement. Dates for the others have not been released.

The announcement comes as the NSW Department of Finance and Services prepares to launch its new ICT Services Scheme to replace lengthy and expensive tender processes. It will provide agencies with a constantly updated panel of pre-qualified suppliers from March 1.

Queensland is in dire need of technology transformation after a number of IT disasters and revelations that its infrastructure was like a "1972 Ford Falcon clunker".

Mr Walker, a first-time MP, was previously the assistant minister for planning reform, and a former managing partner of law firm Norton Rose in Queensland. He was appointed Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts last week after the resignation of Ros Bates, whose brief stint in office was marred by health issues and controversy.

ICT vendors have been waiting for the government to loosen the purse strings since it swept to power in March last year.

About 400 ICT contractors were axed and several projects cancelled while Ms Bates undertook a $5.2 million forensic audit of the state's outdated technology infrastructure. Due for release last October, the audit report is yet to go before cabinet. Mr Walker declined to tell IT Pro whether it would ever be made public.

Edited highlights, however, reveal the state runs some 1730 applications, most of them custom-built and at least 10 years old, including 108 case management and 91 records management systems.

Ms Bates had claimed that an overhaul could cost $6 billion.

Mr Walker said the government was locked into 1990s business processes, with 60 per cent of ICT staff in operational support and management roles.

He warned that governance would be tightened as the upgrade process began.

The state would demand accountability for outcomes and solid evidence of benefits before spending rather than "good intentions or best guesses", and major projects would be "gated and funded in stages".

A comprehensive and practical plan for ICT would be completed by the end of June, Mr Walker said.

The government would also explore software-as-a-service and cloud delivery models, use social media proactively and deliver more services online.

The future of government-owned services bureau CITEC would also come under the microscope.

Data 3 managing director John Grant said the new minister faced a significant challenge getting agencies to work together to consolidate applications, a task he likened to turning around not just a ship but a flotilla.

"Ian needs to get all the CIOs on the same page," he said.

Mr Walker's corporate pedigree would prove a boon for both the government and the state's technology industry, Mr Grant said.

"He has a lot of strong attributes - he's been in the private sector for such a long time . . . he understands the difference technology can make in business."

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