Showcase Ontario 2006: Sneak preview with Ron McKerlie

Showcase Ontario is about meeting people, sharing ideas and discovering new solutions to existing problems, according to the chief strategist and corporate CIO of Ontario, Ron McKerlie.

This year at Showcase McKerlie will be opening up the exhibit floor with his keynote address, speaking broadly about Ontario’s dream to create the Government of the Future.

“And speaking specifically to the key themes of investing in people, improving service delivery and improving the information management capabilities of the Ontario Public Service (OPS),” said McKerlie.

McKerlie said he enjoys the opportunities that an event like Showcase offers.

“Showcase provides three days of extensive educational opportunities for staff where they can select sessions related to issues that impact their daily work lives,” said McKerlie. “It also provides an opportunity for the government to highlight and celebrate its information and information technology (I&IT)-related accomplishments in a wide range of areas.”

Since his interview with CIO Canada Government Review a little more than six months ago, McKerlie said quite a lot has changed within the office.

“We have completed the first phase of infrastructure consolidation which resulted in 624 positions moving from various Ministries/clusters into the OCCIO, Ministry of Government Services when we set up a centralized service delivery organization for IT services,” he said.

McKerlie noted Ontario has also launched and made significant progress on technology consolidation including virtualizing and reducing the number of servers, consolidating/closing server locations and implementing an enterprise email system that should reduce eight email systems to one.

Provincial staffers will also be simplifying their email addresses to, according to McKerlie. “Over the past few months we have migrated a third of the email accounts to this new service.”

McKerlie said they have also set up a new Information and Privacy Office (CIPO), lead by Dr. Mark Vale, who joined the OPS from the private sector.

Since taking office as corporate CIO, McKerlie said significant change has been made, yet they’ve also been very respectful of the employees who are delivering their I&IT services.

“At the same time we’ve taken inefficiencies out of the system while improving the quality of service delivered to our customers,” he said.

While a lot has been accomplished, McKerlie said there is still much to be done.

“We still operate too many of everything,” he said. “Too many different images on our desktops; too many hardware configurations; too many data centres; too many applications that provide the same functionality — more or less; and too many contracts with the same vendor.”

There is a plan and teams in place working on making substantive progress in reducing complexity, taking out costs, and improving service to their customers, according to McKerlie.

“Showcase Ontario provides additional value by connecting people,” he said. “Most of all I hope Showcase will encourage those attending to continue to pursue excellence in the provision of service to the government, and the citizens of Ontario.”

He noted that the corporate CIO office also has a lot of new initiatives and projects in the works, including

Continuing with the infrastructure consolidation projects;

enhancing Ontario’s information management capacity and capabilities across the OPS;

expanding common components applications and services and closing out stand-alone applications where enterprise solutions have been deployed in their place;

deploying asset management capabilities to better manage their application and I&IT assets;

working with other levels of government to improve the services they provide to the public;

moving forward with new ServiceOntario initiatives that allow services to be delivered with the speed, accuracy and convenience not possible through other channels. For example, it allows the Office of the Registrar General – the branch that issues birth, marriage and death certificates – to verify, print and deliver a birth certificate in 15 days or less.

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