Govt CTO? Yes or No?

closeThis article could be out of date, as it was published 1 year 3 months 7 days ago.

If you could make one change to improve the relationship between the New Zealand government and Kiwi businesses, would recruiting a Chief Technology Officer be it?

Borrowing a phrase from the cliched book of IT sayings, the industry is moving at a rapid pace. As a result, would having a bonafide tech expert at the helm advising government decisions be a step forward?

Rod Drury certainly thinks so. The Xero founder believes the appointment of a CTO would help bring the government up to speed on industry issues, while providing a valuable link between the sector and the state.

“Technology is moving really fast,” Drury told the New Zealand Herald.

“Most of the advice given to government comes from vested interests; we need someone who is independent and able to pick out the big subjects, then propose action.”

While the government has made efforts to prevent past IT cock-ups such as Novopay, keeping the in-house IT in order is one thing, keeping Kiwi businesses strong is another.

The government loosened the reins on Chief Information Officer Colin McDonald in June, handing him greater power and a bigger budget in a bid to bring stability to ICT systems through out the government.

But what about a CTO? Is it worth a shot?

Tackling issues such as the ongoing GSCB proposals, security across the board and trade, Drury believes the government should employ a person capable of assisting the cabinet when it comes to policy.

“Most policy doesn’t make that much difference to us,” he admits to the New Zealand Herald, but plans to develop a submarine cable via New Zealand has captured his interest.

“There’s a way the Government could get a trans-Pacific cable without it costing too much money,” he says.

“It would benefit everyone and transform business. It would enable multipoint video conferencing. This would boost productivity and make us part of the global community.”

At present worldwide government IT spending is experiencing a lull period, but Kiwi spending is expected to reach over $1.6 billion according to Gartner.

Spending on IT product and services by government agencies in the country is expected to grow almost 1.4% this year, with software and IT services spending the main areas of growth.

Of the $1.6 billion being spent, how much would it cost to throw in the wages of a CTO? A drop in the ocean surely.

Would hiring a government CTO be a logical move? Tell us your thoughts below

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