Industry and consumer advocates have seized the opportunity to have their say on the Australian Government Information Management Office’s (AGIMO) Draft ICT Strategic Vision for the Federal Government. In this article, Intermedium will identify the similarities and differences between the four submissions to the Department, now published on the AGIMO blog.
Telstra, Wipro, CSG and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) all agreed to have their responses posted on the blog. The documents add to an ongoing consultation which has seen the Strategic Vision post become the most commented item on the popular AGIMO blog.
Several common themes have emerged from the submissions, which are likely to have an influence on the final stages of the development of the ICT Vision. They are as follows:
1. Improving the measurement and monitoring of performance
The issue of metrics featured in all of the vendor submissions.
According to Telstra, there is a need to improve the “line of sight” between major ICT investments and productivity gains.
“Empirical data on the productivity impact of past investments can both help the Government make decisions about future investments and also help agency executives justify ICT budget bids,” it said in its submission.
Telstra’s comments should resonate with AGIMO – “productivity is the new black of government ICT,” AGIMO’s John Sheridan told CeBIT delegates at the beginning of June.
Other vendors chose to emphasise client satisfaction measurement, as a key indicator of government performance.
2. Moving to the cloud
The three companies each expressed the view that government must take immediate, serious steps towards cloud computing.
According to Wipro, those agencies with the highest near-term IT costs should be identified, and their transfer to the cloud expedited. It also advocated the pursuit of ‘early wins’ to drum up support for cloud computing across government.
“For these initiatives to be successful the policy of cloud virtualisation must be adopted by many agencies to achieve the benefits from economies of scale,” it said.
CSC said that the adoption of IT standards across government would bring the establishment of a whole-of-government cloud one step closer, conveniently sidestepping expensive agency-specific and bespoke applications.
AGIMO released its Cloud Computing Strategic Direction Paper in April this year.
In a clear sign that major ICT companies are moving beyond aspirational statements to real capability, HP announced the launch of a ‘tailor-made’ cloud offering for government, which meets Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) standards, on Friday 1 July.
3. Opening channels for a constructive dialogue between government and industry
While the formal tendering process serves an important purpose, said Telstra, the government needs to strike a balance between regulation and a constructive dialogue with industry.
“While such procurement approaches have provided the rigour and probity required from the use of public money, the formality of these exercises, and the time and effort expended by all parties involved, tends to mitigate against open dialogue about the best way to balance demand (i.e. what Government needs) and supply (i.e. what industry can do),” it said.
Wipro expanded on this collaborative notion, suggesting that external collaboration networks be matched with communities of interest within government, where ideas on best practice could be discussed and disseminated.
4. Flexible, pay-as-you-go IT infrastructure
From Telstra’s perspective, striking a balance between the efficiency of infrastructure rationalisation and the flexibility and responsiveness of an agency-specific IT base represents the “elusive holy grail” of government service delivery.
The solution, it said, is infrastructure-as-as-service offerings tailor made for government bodies.
“Looking forward for the next five years, we are confident that the ‘as-a-service’ offerings of the major enterprise-grade ICT vendors will become richer and more mature – and more suitable as platforms for Government agencies” it said.
Following along the same lines, Wipro offered up the advantages of its ‘FlexDelivery’ pay-as-you-go supply model.
5. Addressing the ICT skills shortage
The shortage of skilled IT labour in Australia was an issue repeated extensively across the submissions.
While Wipro and CSC both argued that the government needed to do more to encourage more students into the pursuit of IT careers, ACCAN suggested that people with disability could make up the labour shortfall.
It noted that people with disability are underrepresented in the public service.
“This increased opportunity for employment of people with disability may alleviate some of the ICT personnel shortage that is documented in the Draft,” it said.
Other suggestions included an expansion of the authority of the lead ICT agency (which is AGIMO) and the reduction in number of, and standardisation of, government websites (Wipro); the establishment of a whole-of-government accessible ICT procurement policy (ACCAN); and the extension of the strategy’s time frame to up to ten years (CSC).