Although the State IT Agency (SITA) is behind in implementing its turnaround plan, there is a new spirit of innovation and partnering at the organisation.

With a new board and new CEO having taken over recently, the original turnaround plan can be said to have stalled, CEO Freeman Nomvalo tells IT-Online.

“There was an intention to deliver on the turnaround strategy is March 2013, but we have not been able to achieve that objective,” he says.

Part of the reason for this, he adds, is the change in leadership that the organisation has undergone.

“So the turnaround is still ongoing, to the extent that there are still challenges to overcome.”

Nomvalo is blunt about the challenges still facing the agency, and the fact that mistakes have been made in the past.

“However, we are finding ways of building on our successes and of correcting the mistakes we have made – focusing on the business challenges.”

This means SITA is still working on defining its character, strategy and role, he says.

A refreshing message at GovTech this year has been an appetite for partnering, and a willingness to work together with industry to address government’s service delivery challenges.

“We are trying our best and are serious about partnering with the industry,” says Nomvalo. “We realise that we have our own wishes, and the industry has its own wishes which are not necessarily aligned. But we also know that we cannot do everything on our own, so let’s embrace that.”

The GovTech theme of innovation is difficult to measure, but Nomvalo believes that some important first steps have been taken in making it a reality.

“It seems to me that there were some serious conversation taking place in some of the tracks, and this is a good starting place.
“I also didn’t see much unnecessary defensiveness on the part of SITA. And, once you open up to the possibility that you need help, that lets you embrace whatever comes after.”

Of course, talk is cheap – and relatively easy, Nomvalo says. “I think we have had a successful conference; now we need to translate this talk into action.”

Earlier in the day Nomvalo presented a dissertation on leadership, innovation and risk-taking that proved popular with GovTech delegates, and it seems he will translate this thinking into the organisational structure of SITA.

“I want the people at SITA to drive change,” he says. “I am not an IT person, so I can’t do it. But I need to create the space that allows them to express themselves, where they can release their innovation and potential.”