Search is on for Government CIO, Ryan confirms

3 Mar 2010

The Government is continuing with its plan to appoint a State chief information officer to oversee all State IT procurement and management, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD confirmed at the Digital Landscape conference at UCD this morning.

Ryan said that as part of the renewed programme for Government, the cabinet is keen to progress the appointment of a CIO as soon as possible.

He said that while interviews are under way for a new head of CMOD at the Department of Finance, a new CIO is a critical component that will be needed in the public service into the future.

“What is needed is a good CIO who will be responsible for how public services procure IT.

“But not only that we need a co-ordinated, strategic sense of direction around how we ourselves use ICT. The public service itself is adapting to technology and using it

“We have people in public service who can do it. South Dublin County Council, for example, is using IT in a human way to provide solutions to citizens. It is also about doing more for less,” Ryan said.

Connecting Ireland’s schools

Ryan cited HEAnet, the ISP to the education sector, as a good example of how synergies can be leveraged in its use of high bandwidth technology to connect up Ireland’s universities and how this can then be expanded to connect Ireland’s schools.

“If we put mind to it and have the right attitude we can do it very well. In the everyday world I meet the sons and daughters of Whitaker – many are now heads of ICT companies who are good at what they do and what they’re also good at is value-added activities aimed at gaining the competitive advantage. They are also very publicly spirited.”

Ryan said that this kind of ethos will be valuable in driving efficiencies through the use of digital technology in remodelling the Irish public service.

“When it comes to people, we need capable people who can pull together as a team.”

Encouragement for taking risks

One thing that will have to change is the nature of risk-taking in the public service when it comes to ICT. “We have a terrible history of risk averseness because of things like e-voting and PPARS. The problem is this risk-averseness is ingrained – we’ll have to make mistakes, take risks and reward people who do things differently.

“The Government will also need to embrace cloud computing and recognise the changes we need to make,” Ryan told the conference.

Ryan concluded by saying the future is green. “We don’t need to be bigger but slim, efficient and healthy, less is more. These digital technologies allow you to do that, more efficiently and with less resources. That’s being green, using less resources and cleverly.”

But before that happens, Ryan said: “The political system needs to stop looking like an episode of Eastenders every week. The economy needs to flourish and grow.”

By John Kennedy

Photo: Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years