Deirdre Butler, the first-ever CIO at the Department for Courts, clearly likes a challenge.
The department is carrying out a multimillion-dollar modernisation programme that includes switching from the old Department of Justice’s Wanganui computer system to its own systems. The “huge automation phase” began three or four years ago.
The 35-year-old Butler has already overseen much tumultuous change as head of the IT department at the Ministry of Health, but is ready for more. Challenges in her new role will include business process re-engineering and “complex implementations”.
The Computerworld 2002 CIO of the Year finalist says she’s comfortable with what lies ahead.
“Having being at health for six years, it was time for a change. I am very keen to get exposure to different government departments.”
During her time in health, the organisation moved from a ministry to a government department, the Health Funding Authority was abolished and district health boards were re-established.
A new IT system called Collect became operational over the past two years, replacing part of the Law Enforcement System (Les), also known as the infamous Wanganui Computer. The department’s 2002 annual report says the work involved the design, construction and testing of 31 interfaces with 11 major agencies. It saw the conversion of 300 million records, involving seven million collections, 19 million enforcements and 41 million transactions. Deployment happened in October to December last year.
The department has also just completed the imaging of all historical records to make them accessible within the Maori Land Information Systems. It is also defining the functions of an “e-justice” model, seeing which online processes can be included in any future policies, the annual report says.
Later this year the department begins rolling out a new case management system, developed by Datacom. It is due for full implementation by mid-June 2003.
The department’s focus in the coming year is “to embed new skills and processes and achieve the gains proposed for the modernisation programme”, the annual report says.
Since starting her new role two months ago, Butler says she has been “working through the business, working to get more strategic focus across departments, and to collaborate with the justice sector”.
“Next year I will look at a more innovative phase, once we get the building blocks out,” she says.
This includes building up an IT team of 80 staff, in place of outsourced operations involving EDS and Accenture, which she says “creates a different landscape” in her organisation.
Butler, who worked for five years as IS head for a Sydney-based animal health product company before going to health, says she has no fixed view in the debate over outsourcing. The whole debate is completely dependent on the systems, the applications, the culture and the vision of an organisation, she says.