BC IT in the New New Era

Every change of government provides an opportunity for substantial change in either broad or particular areas of policy, even ones that don’t involve a change in party. On taking the Premiership two years ago, Christy Clark ratified and amplified the nascent open data policies her predecessor had been toying with, which for techno-weenies (guilty as charged) constituted a significant and important positive change. (Non-techno-weenies will note the degradation in overall support for open government in general, but we’ll ignore them because they don’t like computers.)

Now, after a surprise victory, taking full control of her party and vanquishing her enemies both outside and within her party, will Christy Clark bring in any big changes in the world of BC government IT? My guess is “no”, or “yes, if a lot more of the same constitutes a change”.

The big tell is in today’s detailed news release on the new cabinet which in addition to the political leadership (yawn!) details the roster of Deputy Ministers, the administrative leadership.

Tell #1: Bette-Jo Hughes becomes the CIO. No longer acting (?), the architect of the IBM desktop services (we use the term loosely) agreement continues at the OCIO. So, continuity of policy in the boring but important worlds of procurement and standards, and presumably in major initiatives like the BC ID card as well.

Tell #2: Former CIO Dave Nikolejsin is plucked from purgatory at the Environmental Assessment Office and plunked down as DM of Energy and Mines (and Core Review). This one I think is far more interesting.

The “core review” gets to poke its fingers into any and every program in government. What will the man who brought us ICM, the BC Services Card, and the upcoming “one stop” natural resources system rebuild do when placed in charge of a review of all government programs?

I don’t know, but I have a theory: it will somehow involve Deloitte & Touche. Nikolejsin’s other initiatives have all been big ticket, vendor-led enterprises, so it seems reasonable to conclude that D@T’s blend of management consultantese and IT bafflegabery will prove irresistible in this case too. Think of all the business processes that can be streamlined and integrated with a mere $100M in IT capital spend! The savings on paperclips alone…!

One thing I’m fairly certain of, there will be no shortage of IT boondoggles to write about over the next four years. With old boondoggles still en train (ICM), older boondoggles rebooting (BCeSIS), new boondoggles in the works (natural resources) and top-secret boondoggles waiting to come to light (eHealth), all of them 9-figures and up, the world of BC government IT will not disappoint.