Push for e-government creates CIO position

PM saw need for government CIO

On February 1 Brendan Boyle assumes the role of government chief information officer.

“The prime minister is quite clear on the need for a CIO,” he says. “He saw the advantages of a modern ICT environment and is a great believer in what ICT can do in terms of productivity.

“Rather than benchmark against other government departments, people now benchmark against online services such as those provided by banks.

“I think that is a lot of what is behind his thinking. He is expecting e-government to become dominant in government delivery.”

Boyle says a lot of changes being made currently are driven by budgetary pressure on agencies.

“There is a greater tendency now to be more collaborative. I want to get the government ICT environment to be as coordinated and efficient as if we were one organisation.”

He says agencies will have to advise how their work plans in 2011 will align with central plans.

“They will use core products and services unless they can show a business reason why not to.”

A new business group will be formed to encompass the current GTS, Archives NZ, the National Library and ICT procurement and supply.

“We’ve got work to do to configure the GCIO office,” he says.

Boyle, 46, comes from Southland. He completed a law degree at Otago University, and his first job in government was in 1996 as registrar general of lands at Land Information New Zealand.

In 1999, he went to the US to do an MBA at MIT.

“I took the opportunity to do ICT and e-business electives,” he says. “At that time, the dot.com boom was happening and I had access to leading-edge practitioners.”

He moved back to New Zealand the following year having completed a thesis on e-government, so it was natural for him to move to the then embryo e-government unit.

“Trevor Mallard [then State Services Minister] and Michael Wintringham [State Services Commissioner] gave us a lot of leeway to develop that. E-government grew and became more operational, with things such as the government portal and authentication.”

Boyle moved back to LINZ in 2003 as chief executive.

“There was still some development work to be done on Landonline and we put a huge effort into marketing it and training lawyers and other customers.

Landonline cost $130 million to develop, but has been paid for by users.

“The real savings for users are in time and massive productivity gains,” Boyle says.

In 2008 he successfully applied for the job as chief executive at the Department of Internal Affairs. The following year, the government transferred government technology services to DIA, a first step leading up to this month’s massive reorganisation.

Boyle will become the second government CIO; the inaugural holder of that post, Laurence Millar, resigned last year after an inquiry into the awarding of contracts for the since-abandonded Government Shared Network found the process was unsatisfactorily managed.

Tags government CIOBrendan Boyle


Dave Lane


It's also about reining in the unreasonable influence foreign-owned multinationals have in determining our government's IT policies. While they call the shots through organisations like the NZICT group (incorporated), NZ will simply be seen as a reliable (if small in global terms) revenue source for the off-shore shareholders of a few predatory multinationals. Until our government recognises the strength of endemic IT providers and properly supports an endemic "knowledge economy" by encouraging and leveraging those capabilities and allowing them to grow and flourish we'll continue to be a pawn in the global IT game.

Imagine, if the government (the largest IT buyer in the country) actually focused its spending on domestic (rather than almost exclusively multinationals or occasionally their NZ "partners") companies, perhaps some would be able to grow into real exports - of Kiwi skills and ingenuity, not commodity goods.

Our endemic IT market has the potential to build a "weightless" economy - it's just made up of skilled people and ingenuity. Rather than demanding water and land to grow low value commodities, it uses a bit of physical infrastructure, a few undersea cables and some electricity.

In my opinion, our endemic industry is NZ's <em>best</em> hope to shore up our economic future, and even gain that elusive parity with Australia (among others). And get this: we wouldn't have to strip our beautiful country of limited natural resources to do it.

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I think the government CIO role will have a greater challenge than before in encouraging improved business processes (innovation) when CEs are focused on cost savings.

NZ still has a gap in national IT strategy, that the GCIO role could help to address. It's not just about broadband as Rod says, but things like more accurate GPS, faster epayment, etc.



I agree with you Mike. The GCIO role will be challenging in the current environment but his biggest challenge will be getting buy in from the other agencies who have invested alot in their own infrastructure and may think they will lose out in a one-size-fits-all approach. I think it is essential that the SSC send a clear mandate to agencies who are looking to replace their infrastructure to support the GCIO but GCIO will need to make a clear case to both govt and agencies of the efficiencies to be gained.

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