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Cloud, WofG platforms central to ACT’s digital future

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

Topics: IT Services; Software; ICT Strategy; Cloud; Digital Transformation; ACT.

The ACT will adopt Whole-of-government (WofG) cloud-based platforms for a number of back and front office ICT functions, according to the new ACT Government Digital Strategy 2016-2019, as it moves towards a consumption-based service model to “avoid ‘big bang’ projects”.

The new three-year strategy, which was released by Chief Digital Officer Jon Cumming on 14 September, focuses on three strategic principles: Growing the Digital Economy, Delivering Digital Services, and Building Digital Foundations.

“The purpose of the Digital Strategy is to clearly express the ACT’s intentions and create the impetus and architecture for fully digitised services and technology platform renovation”, the strategy states.

While the strategy itself contains few concrete initiatives for implementation, it will be followed by a strategy implementation roadmap and individual plans at a directorate level. The strategy also continues on from a number of existing initiatives, such as the Digital Canberra Action Plan and WofG digital services platform iConnect.

The strategy’s release is likely to improve the ACT’s standing on the Intermedium Digital Government Readiness Indicator, which currently places the territory behind New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the Federal Government.

A preference for cloud

The ACT will increasingly purchase cloud-based solutions and migrate existing assets and services to the cloud (where appropriate to do so), as the government shifts to an elastic ‘per user’ cost basis.

“As our first preference, we will buy software, services and infrastructure from the Cloud.”

A range of as-a-Service solutions will be adopted to avoid having to develop bespoke applications, procuring and maintaining physical servers and storage, or creating new technology platforms.

The ACT Government intends to “create financial headroom” by adopting global commodity computing capabilities through public cloud offerings, but will add value to commodity platforms through its own capabilities and partnerships with local industry. This includes specialist Software-as-a-Service applications, bespoke software development, and locally produced off-the-shelf software.

“This allows a greater opportunity for us to focus our resources on the technology artisans – the non-commodity market in the ACT. This may be for specialised Infrastructure-as-a-Service where the requirements cannot be met by global commodities. More often the value‑add will be in the software and services which can be created with a minimal investment in hardware and infrastructure.”

Bespoke solutions will only be adopted when it is appropriate for government to do so – for example, when financial constraints point towards the adoption of small bespoke solutions, or the Territory’s regulatory environment calls for it. Any bespoke functionality will eventually be migrated to the cloud as these points of difference become commoditised.

“Bespoke technology investments have a high upfront fixed cost and a small incremental cost. We get best bang for buck if we can have millions of users getting value from it. But we do not have millions of users.”

“We will become a broker of services, using the power of Cloud to integrate best of breed solutions to complement our unique and high value bespoke applications.”

WofG platforms

A set of new ‘Common Capabilities’ will be created, including products, services and solutions provided internally or by industry, which will be leveraged by all directorates for new initiatives. Only when convergence and compromise cannot be achieved will the government consider other options.

“By adopting a common technology platform across government we procure it just once, we use more of it and improve unit pricing, we become experts with it and we can create value on it”, states the strategy.

A WofG Data Lake and associated analytical capabilities will be one of the first Common Capabilities to be developed.

Content management services, customer relationship management platforms, enterprise resource and planning platforms, telecommunications and networking, and cloud services (including disaster recovery platforms) are some of the other solutions that will initially be provided by a lead directorate through a ‘library of Common Capabilities’, which will be expanded further over time.

Existing solutions will be migrated to the library at the first appropriate point in their life-cycle.

Digital Services

The ACT was one of the first jurisdictions on the eastern seaboard to reveal a digital self-service platform (in June 2014), and the strategy details the fundamental principles that will further underpin the territory’s digital services.

The government will develop digital services using human-centred design, including the principle of “tell us once”, and use customer data to enhance future interactions.

Citizens will be encouraged to use mobile devices for their transactions with government so that their identity can be guaranteed using two factor authentication – either via text, authenticator app or some other stored security token.

New services will be made available quickly and improved over time, but the government should avoid “sugar fix” transactions “that are simple and flashy”, the strategy states.

“We must balance our diet with both quick solutions and more sustaining foundational initiatives that together build a true Digital capability.”

New approaches to procurement

While fundamental principles of government procurement will remain, the ACT will embrace responsive procurement practices to support the requirements of digital projects.

“As we move further up the value chain we become a broker and integrator of services. We must become agile and expert in these roles to support the digital agenda”, the strategy states.

This includes approaching the market with fixed-price and variable requirements, favouring open standards-based solutions, prioritising as-a-Service offerings, and creating panel partnerships for WofG capabilities to reduce overheads for both government and suppliers.

The strategy also suggests that federal procurement arrangements be leveraged where appropriate. This could include the Federal Government’s new Digital Marketplace, which allows state, territory and local governments to procure services.

In addition to sourcing non-commodity cloud services from the local market, the government will use the Small Business Innovation Partnership Program to engage innovative SMEs in the ACT.

Strategic governance

A Digital Service Governance Committee (DSGC) will be established to oversee the implementation of ICT activity related to the strategy, and bring cohesion to individual governance structures within directorates.

Chaired by Cumming, the committee will be responsible for providing technology advice to directorates and the Strategic Board within the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, identifying and endorsing Common Capabilities, providing governance and guidance over technology architecture, standards and practices, and updating the WofG Digital Strategy to ensure its continued relevance.

Cumming will host a series of workshops with each directorate to ensure their technology and business plans are in line with the strategy. The DSGC will also require agencies to present and maintain a roadmap for the life-cycle of their portfolio of systems and applications.

The government will also adopt Prince2 certification structures for programmes/projects with an ICT component, and base ICT operational governance on ITIL standards. Prince2, which stands for projects in controlled environments, is a project management methodology that is widely used by the UK Government and the private sector.

Related Articles:

DTO launches Digital Marketplace ahead of schedule

ACT names first Chief Digital Officer

Digital Transformation Readiness Indicator: July 2016 update

ICT at the forefront of ACT’s agenda


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